Four officials punished in China AIDS harassement scandal

Updated: 2014-12-27 20:43


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ZHENGZHOU - Four officials were reprimanded and five suspects held by police in a central China city after six people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) were hired to harass residents who refused to vacate their homes for construction projects.

Three housing officials -- including deputy head of the Wodong District housing bureau in Nanyang City, Wang Hesheng -- were given disciplinary warnings over dereliction of duty, the Nanyang City government said on Saturday.

Police have detained five suspects and are pursuing more.

To expedite demolition work, Yi'an, a local construction company, recruited a man, identified as Liu, to head the demolition project.

It is alleged that Liu asked a PLWHA, identified as Cui, to organize a team of fellow PLWHA to form a "demolition team".

The six-member team harassed residents who refused to sign demolition contracts, set off firecrackers in the outside yard and shot residents' windows with slingshots and steel ball bearings.

The demolition team even brandished their AIDS identity cards in an attempt to intimidate residents.

A photograph of a piece of graffiti read: "AIDS demolition team" surfaced on Chinese social media, triggering public outcry. The slogan was reportedly found written in a community slated for demolition under a government plan.

Some residents left out of fear, one local said.

The province of Henan was once known for having a high number of PLWHA, many of whom were infected as a result of selling their blood to illegal "blood gangs".