Prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia (胡佳) said he wants to resume his activism, but was weighing the impact on his family, in his first reported comments after being released from prison at the weekend.
During a telephone interview with Hong Kong’s Cable TV, Hu stressed the importance of “loyalty to morality, loyalty to the rights of citizens.”
“You should be loyal to your conscience,” he said in comments broadcast late on Sunday.
One of China’s leading rights activists and government critics, Hu returned to his Beijing home early on Sunday, his wife Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) said on Twitter, after completing a more than three-year sentence for subversion.
Hu’s release came just days after outspoken artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) returned to his Beijing home after nearly three months in police custody.
Hu, 37, was jailed in April 2008, just ahead of the Beijing Olympics, after angering the Chinese Communist Party through years of bold campaigning for civil rights, the environment and AIDS sufferers.
He won the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s highest human rights honor, later that year while in prison.
Hu now faces one year of “deprivation of political rights” — essentially a ban on political activities that typically includes not talking to the media.
Chinese police have blocked access to his Beijing home, suggesting he may have been placed under some form of house arrest.
Hu said in the interview that his family was pressuring him to stay out of trouble.
“They have told me: ‘Live an -ordinary life and don’t clash with the regime because this regime is very cruel and it arbitrarily violates the dignity of its citizens,’” Hu said.
“I must try to console my parents and do what I can to console them ... but I can only tell them I’ll be careful,” he added, in a strong indication he would like to return to activism.
Hu is widely expected to be hit with the same strict curbs as those apparently applied to Ai and a range of other activists and rights lawyers, who seem to have been ordered to keep quiet after their release from custody.
On her Twitter page yesterday, Zeng said well-wishers hoping to visit Hu would not be allowed in, apparently referring to the police surrounding their apartment.
“I’m slowly reintroducing him into society and arranging his life and work. I don’t think it is necessary to say anything more.”
Last week, Zeng said her husband needed treatment for cirrhosis of the liver, a disease that worsened while he was in prison as a result of inadequate medical care.
An editorial in yesterday’s -English-language Global Times, which is published for foreign consumption, complained that the support Hu enjoys in the West was linked to a Western bias against China’s government.
“Hu and other people win Western applause not because of what they have done for Chinese society and world peace, but simply because they are anti-Chinese government,” the editorial said, in the only mention of Hu in state media.
“Mr. Hu had better keep a sober mind in the face of Western praise, just as China should keep its eye on the various comments coming from the West,” it added.