Amnesty International has reacted angrily to news that a human rights defender has been sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment and one year political rights deprivation in China.

Hu Jia, an Aids activist working in China’s gay community and beyond, was convicted for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by the Beijing Municipal No 1 Intermediate People’s Court early Thursday morning.

Hu, 34, has repeatedly criticised the Chinese authorities’ failure to deliver an effective AIDS prevention and care programme.

“This verdict is a slap in the face for Hu Jia and a warning to any other activists in China who dare to raise human rights concerns publicly,” said Mark Allison, Amnesty International’s East Asia Team Researcher.

“It also betrays promises made by Chinese officials that human rights would improve in the run-up to the Olympics.

“Hu Jia is a prisoner of conscience and we continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release. We urge the IOC and world leaders with a stake in the Olympics to publicly express their concern about his plight and that of numerous other peaceful activists in China who have been silenced in the run up to the Games.

“A failure to speak out would be a ‘conspiracy of silence’ that will be perceived by the authorities as a tacit endorsement of such repression,” said Allison.

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