Imprisoned Chinese activist Hu Jia has been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. Hu Jia is one of China’s best-known environment and human rights activists.
He was one of the founders of the Beijing-based HIV/AIDS organization Loving Source, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping children from AIDS families. Together with his wife, Zeng Jinyan, he regularly informed overseas journalists and human rights organisations of abuses taking place in China.
Hu Jia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on 3 April 2008 for “inciting subversion”. Hu Jia is serving his sentence in Beijing City prison. His family is concerned that he is not receiving adequate treatment in prison for his liver disease but the authorities rejected an application for his release on medical parole.
Zeng Jinyan and the couple’s 11-month-old daughter remain under tight police surveillance with officers stationed outside their home, limiting their visitors and following them when they go out. For the duration of the Olympic Games, they were moved outside Beijing.
Amnesty International considers Hu Jia a prisoner of conscience and has demanded his immediate and unconditional release and the end of harassment of his wife and their daughter. The organisation called the awarding of the prize a significant acknowledgement of the work of Hu Jia.
The award highlights the work of all activists in China who stand up against human rights abuses.