Missing Chinese AIDS activist reported by friends to be alive
Chinese doctor and AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, who was reported missing on August 24, is alive and well, according to friends of the man, The Christian Science Monitor reported Monday. The friends, however, would provide no additional information as to his whereabouts, adding fuel to speculation that Wan has been arrested by the Chinese government for his AIDS advocacy and gay rights efforts. Wan was a key figure in exposing unsafe methods of collecting blood in China's Henan province as being responsible for widespread HIV infections, and he also had directed the AIDS Action Project, which was forced by government officials to shut its offices in Beijing earlier this summer.
Human rights groups have speculated that Wan was arrested for posting data from an internal health ministry document on his Web site. Distribution of the state document's contents without government permission is illegal. If arrested on such charges, Wan can be held indefinitely by police and be denied access to legal representation. AIDS activists have also theorized that Wan was arrested as a means to silence government critics as part of preparations for an upcoming national Communist Party meeting that will designate the next generation of the nation's leaders.
U.S. officials and members of the human rights group Amnesty International on Friday asked the Chinese government for information regarding Wan's disappearance and his current whereabouts but have not yet received a response. Wan was last seen on August 24 at a gay film festival in Beijing.