Sat, Feb 12, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Blind China activist beaten after making video: rights group

AFP, BEIJING

A blind Chinese activist under house arrest in eastern China has been beaten by police officers, apparently for smuggling a videotape out of the country that lashes out at efforts to silence him, a rights group said yesterday.

Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠), who gained worldwide fame for exposing abuses in the execution of China’s “one child” policy, was beaten on either Tuesday or Wednesday by police in Shandong Province for making the videotape, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said.

His wife, who is also under house arrest with him, was also beaten, the group said.

Police are refusing to allow him to seek medical treatment for the beating, which has left him bedridden, the Hong Kong-based group said in a statement that cited an unnamed source with close knowledge of Chen’s situation.

Chen was placed under house arrest in September after serving a more than four-year prison sentence meted out after he exposed widespread late-term abortions and forced sterilizations under China’s “one child” population control policy.

During the daring hour-long video, released on Wednesday by the US-based rights group China Aid, Chen described the harsh conditions of his house arrest and said police had threatened to beat him or throw him back in jail.

“The conservative forces of the [Chinese] Communist Party [CCP] have reached their worst point in openly ignoring the constitution and laws to crack down on villagers and activities aimed at defending rights,” Chen said in the video.

“They are using hooligan methods to provoke and make trouble [for us] — they say we will beat you and beat you and the judicial departments will ignore it,” added Chen, who was wearing dark glasses and a black jacket in the video.

Other activists and rights lawyers said they had been informed of Chen’s beating and that the information was credible.

“It is pretty clear that this news came from Chen Guangcheng, but how it was relayed to the public is not so clear,” leading rights activist and legal scholar Teng Biao (滕彪) said.

“His house arrest is a complete violation of the law ... but this case is not something that can be decided by the law or the courts, only the [CCP] politics and law committee can decide this,” Teng said.

Repeated telephone calls to local police went unanswered yesterday.

The US government has previously criticized China’s handling of Chen.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cited Chen’s case in a speech ahead of the state visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). In it she urged China to free dissidents and stop mistreating government critics.

Although he has no formal legal qualifications, Chen is what is known in China as a “barefoot” or self-taught lawyer. He has been blind since childhood.

He was arrested in 2006 and later convicted of “willfully harming public property” and “gathering masses to disturb traffic order” — charges that stemmed from a rally by supporters who were angry at police treatment of the activist.

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