Hu Jia, the winner of the European Parliament’s 2008 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, complete today a third of his sentence of three and a half years in prison for “inciting subversion of state authority.”
The members of the Sakharov Network, which groups past winners of the Sakharov Prize, reiterate their support for their colleague, who is being unjustly held by the Chinese authorities. “We express our concern and sympathy for our Chinese friend, his wife Zeng Jinyan and their young daughter,” the network said. “We also express our solidarity with all political prisoners in China and their families.”
The Sakharov Network is worried about Hu’s precarious state of health and fears that he could be forced to work in a prison factory. He has just been examined by the authorities in the Beijing prison where he is held, and has been declared fit for work.
Hu’s wife and daughter were allowed to visit him in prison yesterday for the first time in three months. Hu seemed to have “aged” but was happy to see them, Zeng said. Guards stayed with them throughout the meeting and recorded their conversion. They were forbidden to discuss anything other than family matters.
“Our daughter was very well behaved during the visit,” Zeng has written in her widely-read blog (http://www.zengjinyan.org/). “She played with her father, who was able to take her in his arms. We are counting the days one by one.”
Zeng included passages from one of Hu’s letters in her blog entry: “In my old prison, there were four of us in a cell. Mice were the animals that kept us company. As 2008 was the year of the rat, chasing them away or hitting them was unthinkable (…) One of us was in charge of killing mosquitoes to feed the spider that guards the cell. In my new prison, the detainees also rear animals in order to keep going.”
The Sakharov Network reiterates its appeal to the Chinese government to release Hu Jia without delay so that he can come to Europe to collect his prize and take it back to China.