Sat, Apr 28, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Fugitive blind activist appeals to PRC premier

AFP, BEIJING

An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist, speaking in an undisclosed location yesterday following his escape from house arrest.

Photo: AFP / YouTube

Fugitive Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) made an emotional video appeal yesterday to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) to look after his family, while exposing those he said abused him when he was under house arrest.

In the video, an emotional Chen — speaking in a dark room in an undisclosed location — revealed the names of several government officials he said had beaten him and his wife, and made his son’s life a misery.

“Even though I am now free, I am still concerned because my family — my mother, my wife, my child are still in their hands,” Chen said. “They have hurt them for a long time and they could enact crazed revenge on them because of my departure. This revenge could be completely unrestrained.”

Chen — a blind lawyer who won acclaim for his campaigning on forced sterilizations and late-term abortions under China’s restrictive birth policy — escaped from his village in the eastern province of Shandong on Sunday.

Bob Fu (傅希秋), a US-based activist in close contact with Chen, said the blind lawyer had now reached a “100 percent safe” location in Beijing, but refused more comment amid speculation that he had taken refuge at the US embassy.

However, Chen’s wife, young son and elderly mother have all stayed behind and police have now surrounded their house in Dongshigu. They have also arrested his elder brother and nephew, Fu said.

He Peirong (何培蓉), one of Chen’s supporters who helped transport him to his current safe location, was arrested at her home in the eastern city of Nanjing yesterday morning, he added.

Chen had been confined to his cramped home for more than 19 months, despite completing a four-year jail sentence in September 2010.

He was jailed in 2006 after accusing family-planning officials in Shandong of forcing at least 7,000 women to be sterilized or to undergo late-term abortions.

In the video — posted on YouTube — Chen called on Wen to punish several named government and police officials he said had made his family’s life a misery during his time under house arrest.

“This situation is really too inhuman and it harms the image of the [Chinese Communist] Party,” he said, citing several examples of alleged mistreatment.

One day, “they barged into my house. Dozens of men severely beat up my wife, pressed her to the ground, used a blanket to cover her up, punched and kicked her for several hours. They were also violent toward me,” he said.

Chen cited the example of a man named Zhang Jian (張健), the deputy party head of Shuanghou Township — which controls Chen’s village — in charge of legal affairs.

He “repeatedly made it known that we don’t need to worry about the law, we don’t need to worry about regulations, we don’t need any legal procedures,” Chen said.

No one at the Shuanghou local government office responded to telephone calls for comment.

Chen also made an emotional plea to Wen to protect his family from retaliation, pausing and sighing, before talking about his elderly mother.

One day, “a party official clutched her arm and threw her to the ground. She fell on her back and her head hit the door, hurting her so much that she burst out crying,” he said. “And there is my child, so young. Every day when he goes to school, three people follow him. Every day they search him, they take his things out of his school bag, they go through every page. When he is at school, they don’t let him out, when he returns home, they don’t let him go out. I am very worried about this, and I ask netizens to keep watch ... I also ask our government to guarantee my family’s safety.”

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