A group of demonstrators, wearing T-shirts with ‘HIV Postive’ and similar messages gathered to call for the release of Tian Xi (田喜), a Chinese man who has become known as an AIDS activist. Mr Tian was infected with the HIV virus in 1996 after a blood transfusion at a state hospital and has been lobbying for compensation from the government.
In August this year he went to the hospital that gave him the tainted transfusion in Gulu, Henan Province. He lost his temper when talking to the hospital’s director and smashed up his office. He was arrested for intentional property damage and is still in detention, possibly without the HIV medication that he needs.
The police say his arrest is only because he smashed up the hospital director’s office, but as the Global Times put it:
Tian Xi’s actions have reportedly angered local authorities in Henan Province and some believe it was the reason for his arrest last month.
Henan is the province hardest hit by scandals in which state-owned hospitals gave as many as a million people HIV-infected blood.
Back to South Africa, your correspondent’s native land, which has 5.6 million people infected with HIV. And where a rag tag group of activists, no more than 20 judging from these photos, staged the protest in front of the Chinese Embassy: the demonstration was jointly organized by NGOs Section 27, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Gay and Lesbian Equality Project and also by COSATU, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions.
COSATU, whose slogan is “An injury to one is an injury to all” is part of a tripartite alliance with the ruling ANC party and the South African Communist Party, although tensions between COSATU and the ANC have been rising over the last few years.
Whereas the ANC has a very good relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, COSATU spokespeople have frequently criticized China for taking jobs away from South Africa industries. Which perhaps explains their presence at this demonstration.
Links and sources:
• Tian Xi’s blog (Chinese)
• Section 27 report on demonstration
• UNAIDS Global Report (with infection statistics etc.)
• ChinaGeeks: AIDS patient Tian Xi’s arrest and current situation
• Global Times: Police defend arrest of Tian Xi, an outspoken AIDS patient and activist
• LA Times: Justice tough to find for Chinese who got HIV/AIDS through tainted blood
• COSATU website: COSATU condemns human trafficking of Chinese workers
• Communist University: Cosatu slams state on China trade deal (source: BusinessDay)
• City Press: Cosatu slams China for importing labour