Chinese Officials Beat Activist Chen Guangcheng and His Wife, Group Says
Posted by Author on June 17, 2011
BEIJING — Details are emerging about the apparently brutal detention of one of China’s most important legal activists, the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng.
Mr. Chen was released from jail last year after serving a 51-month sentence for disturbing public order and destroying public property — charges linked to his uncovering of forced sterilizations and abortions in the eastern Chinese city of Linyi.
But since his release, he has been under “ruanjin,” or “soft detention,” a kind of house arrest increasingly being used by the authorities to silence people who have not violated the law. The authorities once celebrated Mr. Chen, a 39-year-old self-taught lawyer, as a symbol of the country’s efforts to build a legal system, but they turned against him when he used the law to protest government abuse. Earlier this year, a video was smuggled out showing the circumstances of his detention. Reporters who tried to visit him were turned away by undercover police officers who had encircled his home.
Now ChinaAid, a human rights group based in the United States, says it has evidence of increased harassment, including beatings and the confiscation of personal property. The group, which released Mr. Chen’s video, says it has obtained a letter from Mr. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, that details the couple’s most recent travails.
Contents of the letter were confirmed by a friend of the family, He Peirong. Ms. He, who describes herself as a Nanjing-based Internet activist, said she visited Mr. Chen’s hometown in late May and spoke with people related to his family.
According to Ms. He’s account and the undated letter, Ms. Yuan said that in February and March, Communist Party officials from Shuanghou, a suburb of Linyi, stormed the couple’s home. Ms. Yuan said she was bundled into a blanket and repeatedly kicked so hard that she still cannot stand straight. She said she saw her husband being tortured by the men, who twisted his arms and neck until he passed out. The couple were denied medical aid, she said, except for one intravenous drip from a village doctor. They had to stay in bed because of their injuries, she said.
The men came back repeatedly, according to Ms. Yuan’s letter, and confiscated legal documents related to Mr. Chen’s case as well as a computer, video camera, audio recorder, flashlight and television antenna. Metal sheets were fixed over the windows, and the power was cut off. Telephone lines had already been cut.
Still later, she said, men took away their books, pictures of their daughter and calendars off the wall. The authorities installed video cameras to monitor the couple.
The house arrest extends to the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Ms. Yuan wrote, and Mr. Chen’s mother.
Local authorities did not answer phone calls seeking comment, but the use of house arrest appears to have increased in recent years as the authorities try to silence critics. Several pastors of the Beijing-based Shouwang Church, for example, have been under house arrest for months since trying to lead outdoor services after their meeting place was closed. The church refuses to place itself under government control.
The authorities seem especially nervous, with a string of political anniversaries on the horizon. On July 1, the Communist Party celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding, and later this year is the 100th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew China’s emperor. Next year, a crucial, twice-a-decade party congress will choose the country’s leadership for the next 10 years.
Source: New York Times
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This entry was posted on June 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm and is filed under Activist, Chen Guangcheng, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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