Wan Yanhai: “When I am in China, the authorities look at me like I am a bird in a cage. They say: ‘If you don’t listen to me, then I will eat you, but after I leave the country, they will see me in a new light, because I am no longer in their cage.”
Wan Yanhai (万延海), founder of the Beijing-based Aizhixing Institute and one of the most outspoken HIV/AIDS activists in China has arrived in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter after hiding out in Hong Kong and Guangzhou for two weeks.
In an interview with the AP, Wan said he decided to leave because of increasing intimidation by authorities, “As an organization and personally, the attacks from the government had become very serious. I had concerns about my personal safety and was under a lot of stress… When I am in China, the authorities look at me like I am a bird in a cage. They say: ‘If you don’t listen to me, then I will eat you, but after I leave the country, they will see me in a new light, because I am no longer in their cage.”
In 2002, Wan Yanhai, was detained for “leaking state secrets” by exposing the botched blood collection schemes in Henan. In January this year, his organisation Aizhixing was forced to cancel its 16th anniversary celebrations. Two months later, his speech at the Southern China Science and Industry University on sexual orientation and mental health was interrupted by Guangzhou police, acting on a notice that had been sent to universities across China to prevent them from inviting him to speak.
Another notable Chinese HIV/AIDS activist now in the United States is the award-winning 82 year old “grandma” activist Dr Gao Yaojie (高耀潔). She fled to the US late last year after many years of imprisonment and harrassment.