Prominent HIV/AIDS activist and Sakharov Prize winner Hu Jia (胡佳) may have been freed from a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence for state subversion, but he continues to remain technically under house arrest, with security guards following him wherever he goes.
In a phone interview with Verna Yu of the South China Morning Post, Hu has spoken up for the first time since his release. Here’s a quick overview of what he said.
On his life now:
“This is what I had expected – out of a small prison into a big prison.”
On his views of the security guards whose job it is to follow him:
“My hatred in the past has turned into pity … those people who make us live in hell, do you think they live in paradise? I’m a free person but they are not free. At least I have freedom in thought and the freedom not to do bad things, but they don’t.”
On a nine-day solitary confinement when he was handcuffed and shackled in jail after an argument with the police:
“Those were things I only saw in movies before. But it happened to me again a dozen times because when I went to the hospital I had to wear them … and I felt deeply humiliated because people would look at you and think: `Are you a murderer?'”
On his attempts to educate prison police while in jail:
“I told them the charge ‘inciting subversion’ is an infringement of people’s freedom of speech … I told them we must have this law abolished and we cannot allow it to be a sword of Damocles forever dangling over everyone’s head… They thought I was exaggerating but, you know, the calls for freedom of speech are getting louder, and, when I see this, I know I’m not alone.”
On pursuing “sustainable development” and abandoning his usual confrontational style:
“The officials are already very afraid – the more you provoke them the crueller they are. That kind of fear would bring brutal retaliation … so we have to push for reform step by step… I want to see the historical moment of the democratisation of China.”