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3 Apr 2008

beijing olympic clean-up targets gays, says activist

Following recent raids and arrests at saunas, clubs and cruising spots, China's best known AIDS activist Wan Yanhai who circulated reports earlier this week about the government's crackdown tells Fridae's Beijing correspondent Dinah Gardner about the local situation.

Beijing police have launched a series of raids on gay saunas, clubs, and park cruising spots in what looks like a concerted effort to clean up the city ahead of the summer Olympics, according to an AIDS activist.

AIDS activist Wan Yanhai was fired in 1994 from was fired from a Health Ministry job in 1994 after publicly calling for AIDS education and gay rights. In 2002, he was detained for a month on charges of leaking an internal government report on the blood-selling schemes in Henan Province where several hundred thousand people are believed to have contracted HIV through a government-sponsored blood collection program and again in 2006 for accusing government officials of failing to act as the disease continues to spread.
More than 100 people have been arrested in the space of three weeks and an unknown number of people are still being held a week after they were first detained, says Wan Yanhai, co-founder of Aizhixing (爱知行), a Beijing-based HIV/AIDS advocacy group.

"All the prominent gay cruising areas were raided," says Wan. "One bathhouse is still closed and some people are still in detention; maybe less than 10, but we don't know how many."

He said that on March 17 some 30 policemen, some of them in "special forces" uniforms, descended on Dandong Park near Tiananmen Square. The park is the capital's most famous gay cruising spot. They pulled in more than 40 people, checked their identity papers, took their photos and pulled those without ID in for further questioning including an outreach worker with Aizhixing.

"We talked with one of the boys arrested," says Wan. "He said police asked him if he was a money boy, he said no, and warned him that they had his details on file, that it was Olympics year and that it was foolish for him to go to the park and he shouldn't go back there."

Three days later, police raided Oasis, a well-known gay sauna in the centre of the city. They detained 74 people, including staff, masseurs and clients, said Wan.

Most of the people were held for 30 hours - some up to four days - asked repeatedly were they sex workers and were only released after they paid a "fine" of between 200 (US$28) and 2,000 yuan. The police threatened to inform their families if they didn't pay the fine, which appeared to depend on how much money the detainee had on him at the time. "This is similar to blackmail," accused Wan.

Several other raids on parks and saunas have also taken place while earlier in March, Destination, the main gay club, was hit by police on a busy Saturday night. The club reopened three days later.

While the raids in March appear to be targeting sex workers more worrying is the harassment of a prominent lesbian activist in her own home.

Police, both plainclothes and uniformed, came to her house in January and then again in March, asked to see her identity papers, questioned her about her job, demanded a photograph and queried her about her live-in girlfriend.

"I guess it was nave to give them a picture but I wasn't sure what was going on at the time," said the lesbian activist who prefers not to be named. "I've been living her for three years and have never had a problem before."

The second police raid came a day after she had sent out a press release for an event to mark the collection of signatures on a petition calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in China.

Wan said he thinks it's not just directed at Beijing's gays but more the result of a directive to clean up the city before the Olympics specifically targeting sex workers. But "we should clearly tell the Chinese government that this situation is not acceptable and you have to respect human rights before the Olympics and not just to clean up the city to ensure security."

Reader's Comments

1. 2008-04-03 19:33  
hmmm ... tibet and now this. well, we should give this beijing 2008 a miss.

boo !
2. 2008-04-03 20:58  
the more they do...the thing will getting worse in the eyes of the world.....tibet, gay, taiwan blah blah blah......

ps: hope olimpic will bring the joy to all my friends there :) instead of situation like this...
3. 2008-04-03 22:18  
China Inc. would do go hiring a professional PR agency for themselves - all the bad press these days are just going to hurt her even more. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing what is perceived as the right thing to do.
4. 2008-04-03 23:29  
Wan is clown.
Comment #5 was deleted by its author
6. 2008-04-04 00:15  
The same thing is happening in Shanghai now as well. For some reason the police having been cracking down on all of the gay venues in the city in the last few months.
7. 2008-04-04 00:58  
Great article, Dinah. My god, the Chinese government is so stupid... don't they realise that Olympic tourists will *want* gay clubs, saunas and hookers too?

I bet a few Olympics athletes will want them too. You can't give 'em good food, good air, good toilets or safe buildings... at least give 'em some good ass.

But I'm trivialising this. Seriously, the world is holding the IOC in mockery. They should move the Olympics to another country already. Show them they mean business.
8. 2008-04-04 01:09  
Come on....guys....China is progressing a lot....at least it decriminalized homosexuality some 20 years ago, an achievement that Singapore probably has to wait for another 20 years to reach, I suppose?

Shenzhen just successfully held a gay party last month...check out Fridae Foto.

For that, I believe China is well deserved Olympics.

For Tibet, don't you see that the series of events were very well orchestrated targeting exactly BJ Olympics? Trying to profit from loss of lives is a sin, even Dalai Lama has to declaim painfully that he has anything to do with Tibet riots.

PRC government is bad at telling truth, but it is what it is. This time, lies were cooked by someone else, not PRC government. The bad record of PRC government cannot and does not legitimize the killings of innocences and lies done by some tibet extremists and their western media supporters.
9. 2008-04-04 01:31  
Gosh, imagine what happens when U are Gay and Tibetan in Beijing at the same time ... what a fiesta that would be ...
Comment #10 was deleted by its author
11. 2008-04-04 19:56  
Olympics is the biggest wankfest on earth. *YAWN*

Poor gays and Tibetans aside, spare a thought for the poor local residents whose houses have been or will be demolished to make way for the visitors and the craptacular event.

I wouldn't be surprised if some lowlife from the Chinese circus (I mean government) is reading this right now and making an arrest warrant on me. Yay come get me SCUMBAGS!
12. 2008-04-04 23:50  
PRC govt have under estimate the power of PINK dollars attracting and contributing to the economy by the locals and the tourists. Only PLU would not mind paying $$$ for the finest goods & services. After Beijing Olympics, it is not surprise to see Singapore's turn to YOG 2010 raid. Its matter of time. Sigh.
Comment #13 was deleted by its author
14. 2008-04-05 01:13  
i think thr prc govt has adopted the wrong strategy. Instead of not allowing the poor to use the public facilities, they should build/ renovate the public toilets where the poor can use. as for the gay venues, instead of raiding the pubs, they could come out with plans to relocate these places where there will be red light districts, gay venues, gay gardens, food streets, etc...shifting them to places nearby instead of forcing them out of the city.

This is called "Urban Redevelopment"..

what do you think?

Agree with post #7 raysjun. =P
15. 2008-04-05 16:16  
I had considered to go to the Beijing Olympics but now in the past few months with so much repression and mindless actions, I will not go at all. You know, in the past, the Chinese central government had quite a good policy of just leaving people alone. They would do well to return to those policies and concentrate on economic development. Trying to control only leads to more to control and then you really lose control and create chaos.

Comment #16 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-21 18:44
17. 2008-04-05 21:58  
rubbish! the beijing and the policemen there! all rubbish!.no rights there.
18. 2008-04-06 23:27  
Well U know if so many Gay men 'globally' weren't 'skanky queers' probably/possibly the kind of unwanted attention we attract could dissipate, the actions of those trawling for sexual gratification make it harder for the majority of more decent considered gay men, think about that when your frequenting public places..Heroes.. It is not the nature of the communist party controlling China to respect Human rights it's a one party dictatorship for God's sake, that's a joke, time some people took a cold shower, Tibet has been held captive for decades Fulon Gong practitioners get their organs harvested,any way who really believes it should be a natural right for any one in mass to trawl public places for sex any way?
19. 2008-04-07 11:46  
aztlan, why do u say so many gay men r "skanky queers"? and even if u r right, so what?? could it be centuries of margilisation, oppression, torture, ostricizatiion from mainstream society giving rise to our perverted gay subculture? (I could just as easily be defining the catholic institution, could I not?) What is so wrong with trawling for sex in public places? Heteros do it too, not just us skanky, horny homos. What is so wrong with SEX? Animals trawl in public places for sex; been to the zoo lately? China is an habitual human rights abuser. As the Chinese government continues to grow economically we can expect human rights abuses to become exponintially more profound. Is the rest of the world supposed to be impressed with China's new-found might? Are we supposed to fear it? Bow before the great China??? Does the communist government deserve our respect? No, No NO and NO! I'd planned to see the Olympics while I was studying here...but my queer money and my queer time are much too valuable to throw any of it at this government. China, as a government and a "developing" country, is so disappointing. All I can see is that China is DEVELOPING into a monster.
Comment #20 was deleted by its author
Comment #21 was deleted by its author
Comment #22 was deleted by its author
23. 2008-04-07 14:06  
Atzlan:

Show me a homosexual skank & I'll show you 10 or more HETEROSEXUAL skanks I can easily find.

Anyway,nothing surprising abt this- the name Beijing Govt is almost always synonymous with repression, isn't it? Take a good look @ their track record...way before persecution of gays & Tibet, there's the Sars coverup, the Ching Cheong incident..you get the picture
24. 2008-04-11 13:44  
Pure LIE! It is rediculous, I just talked with my friends in Beijing and they were confused. If there is in fact such an action, how come none of them were aware of it. None of the other Chinese oriented gay websites has such information, few of them have root server in other country. Some people should really stop spreading lies and hatred around. It is about Olympics not China. If you hate China so much why even voted for Beijing at the first place. Chinese government is bad at some place but it is in progressing. It tooks Western people hundred years to realize the human right, And don't forget about the recent history of China being invaded by western countries. We start from having nothing knowing nothing to today's proverty. I think the government did a great job and i truely believe that someday we will reach the true democracy. As people like Dinah Gardner can just stop lying and mind their own business.
25. 2008-06-21 02:26  
I was just at Oasis and it was raided last nite - police raids aare definitely happening and not just anti-government lies. They held us for an hour or so while obtaining ID cards and hassling everyone. Eventually, they let most of us go - they detained the workers for longer but I didn't stay to find out. It was rather scary.

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