Archive for April 25th, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Zeng Jinyan worried about Hu Jia’s Health

The following is translated from Zeng Jinyan’s (曾金燕) blog. Corrections are welcome.

April 25, 2009, 10:42 am

Only April can really count as the beginning of spring in Beijing. One cool rain at night makes the wild flowers erupt with blossoms, and dry twigs suddenly become abundantly green.

Spring is the season of emergence. If Hu Jia was here, he’d probably say something like this.

Wednesday, April 22, really feels like a holiday. Getting up early, getting myself ready, dress the child with clothes prepared the evening before, and taking them off again, worried that they might get dirty during lunch, and packing some extra clothes just in case. Telling Baobao: Today we are going to see Daddy! Baobao immediately points at the photo on the wall and smiles. When staying with the grandparents, once someone mentions seeing Daddy, she walks to the wall there and looks for a photo.

At 1 p.m., travelling on the Jingkai Expressway (京开高速公路), chatting with mother-in-law and, being distracted, missing the highway exit – I’ve taken this route to Beijing Prison many times, and such a mistake shouldn’t happen to me. Outside the Sixth Junction, I’m getting off the expressway and go back.

Tuanhe (团河) was the palace of the Qing Dynasty’s royal family. Now it is the place for Beijing Prison (北京市监狱).

After completing the formalities, we go to the meeting room. Hu Jia is already waiting there. They have changed the policeman again who has to be there during our meetings. The electronic wall display says: Hu Jia, No. 4. We are communicating by phone, at window number 4. The audio quality isn’t good, and it’s interrupted several times.

The window glass is very dirty and blurs the sight. It’s almost like fog within the double glazing. I can see Hu Jia, but not clearly. He has become much thinner within just a month, and his face is almost pointed. He says that he can’t eat much, therefore, he’s thinner. I ask him if he eats eggs, and he says that he gets about one or two eggs per week. He doesn’t eat the same way as the others do; he gets vegetarian food from the prison. He doesn’t eat enough, and he doesn’t sleep well. I ask him if he knows the results of the medical checkup of three months ago. We both don’t know them. When asking the prison staff, they say they also don’t know, and that we have to wait until the hospital passes them on. But routinely, one can get the results within a week!

Inevitably, I’m worried again. When Hu Jia had disappeared in 2006 for 41 days, the first test (B超结果*)) taken after his return gave reason to suspect cirrhosis, and other biochemical test results, taken four or five days later, showed that everything was normal. I was rather careless back then, and had too much faith in the report, thinking that everything was safe. Who would have thought in April 2006 that Hu Jia, who didn’t eat, later didn’t even want to get up, wasn’t simply fatigued (as I thought), but needed immediate hospital treatment (as we found out there)?

It’s April again, and there are two months’ test results we don’t know. He hasn’t taken the previous anti-viral medicine for three months now, and suddenly, he doesn’t eat, becomes thinner, doesn’t that say something about his condition? The prison’s censorship of our communication seems to become more and more strict, his letters have to be rewritten several times and the books I’m bringing him aren’t passed on to him either, except for exam materials. Did Hu Jia protest? There’s no hot water in the showers, did that make him catch a cold?

So many words, I don’t know where I’m taking them from. So many ears listening, and circumstances don’t allow to speak the words, family matters that you can’t talk easily here, the child is getting naughty and walks to the entrance to see her father. But the policeman besides him isn’t as friendly as the one who monitored us previously, therefore, the child gets frightened and runs back to me. There is no way for us through this door. Only an innocent child can cross it now and then.

Suddenly, the phone connection is interrupted. We are told that half an hour has passed. The policeman urges Hu Jia to go back. I feel deep remorse. We haven’t really talked anything, and father and child haven’t been together at all. That’s what it was like before – it wasn’t like not talking at all, let father and child be together for half an hour.

On our way back, my mother-in-law asks: He’s become so thin, what should we do?

What should we do? What should we do?

Next day, she tells me that she has phoned the state security police (国保). I’m calling the prison several times, but people in charge are all away. We can only continue to make phone calls: his medical test results, shouldn’t they have long been given to his family people and to Hu Jia himself? Doesn’t he have to get medical treatment? Shouldn’t his nutrition be secured? Shouldn’t our freedom of communication be guaranteed?  Is it right to restrict the books, writing materials and some articles for daily use that his family people want to bring? Shouldn’t the prison, from some basic humanity and health considerations provide warm-water showers?


*) I’m not sure about the meaning of this test, and how to translate it.

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