Blind activist Chen Guangcheng escapes house arrest
A blind human rights activist is currently being sheltered under US protection in China after evading nearly 100 guards to escape his house arrest.
Chen Guangcheng, a blind self-taught human-rights lawyer, is supposedly being held at the US Embassy in Beijing from where he has asked for justice for himself and his family, whom the authorities have harassed for years.
Chen and his wife Yuan Weijing fought the Chinese government’s practice of forced abortions and sterilisation of thousands of women in Linyi county, for which he served four years in prison for “inciting public disorder”. Since his release in 2010 he has been held under house-arrest in Dongshigu village, Shandong province, where local security personnel have surrounded his house and subjected the family to violent abuse and surveillance.
ChinaAid, a pro-Christian non-profit organisation based in Texas, has reported that Chen is “100% safe” in Beijing, reassuring the world that high-level negotiations were being held to secure his future and that of his family who have been suffering intensified reprisals from authorities since his escape.
“This is a pivotal moment for US human-rights diplomacy,” said Bob Fu, ChinaAid president. “Because of Chen’s wide popularity, the Obama Administration must stand firmly with him or risk losing credibility as a defender of freedom and the rule of law. If there is a reason why Chinese dissidents revere the US, it is for a moment like this.”
Chen’s escape from house-arrest has been cloaked in secrecy as he apparently passed through eight check-points and reached the undisclosed Beijing location unnoticed.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy has not confirmed or denied reports on whether he is being held at their embassy.
Chen himself released a video in which he described the endless beatings he and his wife were punished with, claiming his child was escorted to and from school by guards. “Prime Minister Wen, you owe the people an explanation,” he said. “Are these atrocities the result of local officials violating the law or a result of orders from the top leadership?”
Amnesty International have led the campaign for his release from house-arrest, demanding the Chinese government stop any further persecution of the activist. “It is time for this shameful saga to end,” said Sarah Schafer, an Amnesty International China researcher.
The incident comes at a tough time for China, which is facing a leadership struggle this year alongside damaging news that a party secretary and his wife are alleged to have murdered English businessman Neil Heywood.
The editorial unit