The eldest brother of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) said he was beaten up yesterday by two men he said were government-hired thugs, which would mark a sharp escalation in harassment meted out to Chen’s family.
The treatment of Chen Guangcheng’s family has received prominent attention from the US in recent weeks and could cause further friction between Beijing and Washington over human rights.
Chen Guangfu (陳光福) said he was beaten by unidentified men in what appeared to be the latest incident of harassment of Chen Guangcheng’s family since last month, around the anniversary of his escape from 19 months of house arrest.
Chen Guangfu, 56, said two young men punched and chased him as he was heading home to Dongshigu Village, Shandong Province.
The men, who appeared well-dressed and in their 20s, jumped out of a black car and hit him repeatedly on the head, he said.
He said he was not seriously injured in the beating that lasted several minutes.
“I started shouting and running away from them at the same time,” Chen said by telephone, about 10 minutes after the incident happened.
“This is a continuation of what has been happening to me since April 18,” Chen said, adding that he believed the men were government-hired thugs. “My feeling is that they didn’t appear to be farmers.”
Police in Linyi City, which has authority over the village of Dongshigu, could not be reached for comment.
Chen Guangfu recently said that security personnel had carried out a nightly harassment campaign, throwing rocks, bottles and dead poultry at his house for 12 nights in a row.
Chen Guangcheng, who made international headlines last year when he escaped house arrest and spent 20 hours on the run before finding refuge at the US embassy in Beijing, called on the US last week to ensure his family in China was treated fairly.
Chen Guangcheng’s decision to take refuge in the US embassy was deeply embarrassing for China, and led to a diplomatic tussle before China allowed him to fly to the US with his wife and child.
US Secretary of State John Kerry tried calling Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) to discuss a nephew of Chen’s who has been imprisoned, but Wang was not available, the US State Department said last week.
Chen Guangfu’s jailed son, Chen Kegui (陳克貴), had been diagnosed with appendicitis and urgently needs medical care, Chen Guangfu said, but he had not been offered surgery for the condition.
Chen Guangcheng is a self-schooled legal advocate who campaigned against forced abortions.
He was jailed for four years on charges that he and his supporters said were spurious, and then held in his village home for 19 months after being released.
In related news, Chinese authorities have arrested more than 10 activists who campaigned to have political leaders disclose their financial assets, lawyers said yesterday, with one charged with “inciting state subversion.”
Chinese citizens are regularly scandalized by reports of Communist Party members living lavish lifestyles, and activists have called for laws requiring government officials to publicly list their assets.
Newly appointed Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has vowed to crack down on all forms of corruption.
However, police in Jiangxi Province detained activist Liu Ping (劉萍), 48, late last month for “inciting subversion of state power,” after she campaigned online for official asset disclosure, said her lawyer, Zheng Jianwei (鄭建偉).
Police in Jiangxi did not answer phone calls yesterday. They had not given a clear reason for her arrest, Zheng said, adding that it was probably related to her recent activism.
In a separate case, Beijing police arrested at least 10 people after activists unfurled a banner calling for official asset disclosure in a busy Beijing shopping district last month.
“First four were arrested, then another six were arrested in connection with the incident” after police forced the small-scale protest to end, Liang Xiaojun (梁小軍), a lawyer for several of the activists, said yesterday.
It was not clear when the arrests occurred.
All but one of the group had been charged with “unlawful assembly,” Liang said.
He was unsure when the case would go to court.