Xin Lin | Radio Free Asia
A Chinese rights activist and former winner of the European Union’s Sakharov human rights prize is critically ill in hospital after being admitted last weekend.
Hu Jia, 43, was taken to Beijing’s You’an Hospital on Saturday with acute pancreatitis, and is critically ill, he told RFA.
“I have been taken ill with sudden acute pancreatitis, and I called the ambulance myself,” Hu told RFA in a video sent from his hospital bed on Tuesday
“The doctor diagnosed me, then issued a critical notice,” Hu said. “Acute pancreatitis carries some likelihood of death.”
“I am on nil by mouth and a 24-hour drip,” Hu said. “This situation requires intensive care, but I am still conscious, although very weak following several days of anti-inflammatory medication.”
But he vowed to “return to the fray” and continue to fight for change in China.
“There will be a short delay while I recover and get discharged from hospital, but after that I will return to the fray and continue my activities promoting change in China,” he said.
Hu’s ex-wife Zeng Jinyan flew overnight with the couple’s daughter to be with Hu in hospital on Wednesday. Calls to Zeng’s cell phone rang unanswered, however.
Friends said he is temporarily unable to speak owing to the infection, a high fever, and a risk of cross-infection.
Fellow activist Qi Zhiyong, who was maimed when a tank ran over his legs on the night of June 3, 1989 in Beijing, said he had visited Hu in hospital on Wednesday too.
“He hasn’t been able to eat for the past week, nor drink any water, and he is pretty groggy,” Qi told RFA.
“Hu wasn’t doing too badly a few days ago, but now his condition is getting worse and worse,” he said. “The doctor said he could die at any moment.”
“Anything they do for his liver will be bad for his pancreas [and vice versa], and Hu has hepatitis B at cirrhosis of the liver,” Qi said.
‘He could go at any time’
He said Hu’s parents had also arrived at his bedside, but doctors said he shouldn’t receive any other visitors.
“He could go at any time, die. That’s a big danger,” Qi said.
Jiangsu rights activist Xu Liyan said she had waved to Hu through the door, rather than entering the room.
“Several dozen people came [to visit] from all over,” she said. “But nobody went into his room.”
Activist Jiang Jiawen, who traveled from the northeastern province of Liaoning to visit Hu, said many of his visitors are under surveillance by China’s state security police.
“I don’t know why the state security police need to be here; it’s not as if Hu Jia can do anything when he’s so sick,” Jiang said.
A campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China, Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize, a major human rights award, by the European Union in 2008.
He has acted as a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices, and the mistreatment of dissidents.
More recently, Hu has been a vocal supporter of jailed Uyghur dissident Ilham Tohti, regularly speaking out against Chinese government policy in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Hu was handed a three-and-a-half year jail term in 2008 for “incitement to subversion” after he wrote online articles critical of China’s hosting of the Olympics.
A campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims, and a vocal critic of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Hu was awarded the Sakharov Prize, a major human rights award, by the European Union in 2008.
Zeng had warned repeatedly that his health was deteriorating badly in prison, but five applications for medical parole were turned down by the authorities.
Beijing rights lawyer Sui Muqing said there is likely a direct connection between Hu’s current health problems and his time in jail.
“His cirrhosis of the liver and now this acute pancreatitis are related to his time in jail,” Sui said. “He was never in particularly good health, and wasn’t well enough to do jail time and people thought [something like this might happen].”
“This is very worrying, because he is in such poor health,” Sui said.
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