Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Second blind PRC activist flees

DOZY:Activist Li Guizhi was being held in a hotel room in Hebei Province, but her guards fell asleep and members of her family sneaked her out of the building

Reuters, HONG KONG

A second blind Chinese activist has escaped state custody, a Hong Kong human rights group said, three months after dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) embarrassed Beijing’s vast security network by breaking out of detention and obtaining US protection.

Chinese Citizens’ Rights Protection Alliance said 57-year-old Li Guizhi, detained at the border in Shenzhen for trying to enter Hong Kong to join a large pro-democracy protest on July 1, had escaped custody this week with the help of her relatives.

Li had been petitioning authorities for years to investigate the death of her son, who died suddenly in 2006 and was quickly cremated, the alliance said.

She never saw her son’s dead body.

She had wanted to enter Hong Kong to petition her cause at a march held to mark the anniversary of Britain’s 1997 handover of the territory back to China, the alliance added.

Li was subsequently held in a hotel room in Hebei Province weeks later and, when her guards were dozing, her relatives sneaked her out of the building, Liu Weiping (劉衛平), a spokesman for the alliance said late on Thursday.

“On July 17, at about 5am, she managed to escape her hotel room with help from her relatives. They [police] are now pressuring her family to hand her over,” Liu said.

Chinese police were not immediately available for comment.

Chinese domestic security have suffered some humiliating lapses this year, culminating in April with the daring escape from house arrest of Chen, a blind legal activist who slipped past his guards and traveled hundreds of kilometers to Beijing, where he secured protection inside the US embassy.

He later flew to New York with his family under a deal negotiated between Washington and Beijing.

Li is now in a “safe place” in her native Hebei Province — close to Chen’s own Shandong Province — but her relatives fear police will catch up with her soon, Liu said.

Liu said Li had been detained repeatedly since 2006.

“Her health is in a terrible state ... and she has asthma. Her asthma played up when they caught her,” he added.

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