Frustrated Aids patients tear down government office gate
About 300 Aids patients and their relatives tore down the main gate of a government office in central China yesterday during a protest over unmet demands for financial assistance.
Protester Li Xia said police in Zhengzhou beat some of the patients with batons after they gathered outside the Henan provincial government office, blocking the main gate, to demand a meeting with officials. One protester was dragged into the building by police, she said.
“We want the government to give us some help,” said Ms Li, who like many of the protesters was infected with HIV when she sold blood in 1995. Tens of thousands of people contracted the virus that causes Aids in a blood-selling scandal in Henan in the 1990s that is widely seen as a failure of government regulation.
Collectors paid villagers to give their blood, pooled it without testing for HIV or anything else, extracted the plasma then re-injected the blood back into those who sold it. Officials covered up the problem for years, which allowed HIV to spread when people were infected from tainted transfusions at hospitals.
Activists say that local courts reject claims for compensation, leaving the victims with few avenues to seek redress..
The group that protested yesterday had been told in April by an official from the local civil affairs department that the government would respond to their request in two months, but had been repeatedly put off since.
“We had been waiting outside here for so long, but no one cared,” said Gao Yanping, another protester. “Now they are asking us to wait another two months? We cannot control our anger any more.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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