News / Asia

Chinese Blind Activist Speaks With U.S. Lawmakers, Voices Concern About Relatives

In this image made from video, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen on a video posted to YouTube Friday, April 27, 2012 by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com.In this image made from video, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen on a video posted to YouTube Friday, April 27, 2012 by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com.
x
In this image made from video, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen on a video posted to YouTube Friday, April 27, 2012 by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com.
In this image made from video, blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen on a video posted to YouTube Friday, April 27, 2012 by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com.
Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng told a U.S. congressional hearing Tuesday he is concerned about the persecution he says his relatives have faced following his escape from house arrest in April and flight to the U.S. embassy in Beijing.  Chen's actions triggered an intense round of negotiations between the United States and China.  He was later released to a hospital in Beijing, where he is now waiting for Chinese authorities to approve a request to travel to the United States.  

Chen says that since he escaped house arrest last month, both his nephew and older brother have been beaten by Chinese authorities.

Speaking by telephone from the hospital in Beijing, Chen said local authorities and hired thugs raided the home of his older brother around midnight April 26 and later took the man away without explanation.

In his call with members of a House foreign affairs subcommittee, Chen said the group of thugs beat his brother and his family members violently.

Chen Guangcheng said his nephew, Chen Kegui, was also savagely attacked during the raid and in the process injured several of his attackers.  Chen Kegui has been charged with attempted murder, but Chen Guangcheng said his nephew was acting in self-defense.

Chen said his nephew was beaten savagely, leaving his face covered in blood and his clothes torn.  Chen said that three hours after the attack, his face was still bleeding.

At the hearing, rights activist Bob Fu noted that authorities in China have thwarted attempts to get a lawyer to represent Chen Kegui.  Authorities have revoked the licenses of some lawyers and barred others from traveling to Shandong province where the nephew is being held.  

"I am very, very concerned that the Chinese government, especially the local Linyi authorities will, based on these trumped up charges [against Chen Kegui] make a fake trial and expeditiously hand him a very severe sentence," said Fu.

In 2006, Chen Guangcheng was sentenced to four years in prison for exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control.  After he was released in 2010, he was held under strict house arrest.  He escaped April 22 and later fled to the U.S. embassy in Beijing, where he remained for six days.

Tuesday was the second time that Chen has called in to address a U.S. congressional hearing in less than two weeks.  When asked by Republican Representative Christopher Smith, the chairman of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, whether he had anything he would like to tell the U.S. people, he voiced his gratitude to those who have shown concern for his situation and that of his family.

Chen also said that he is not a hero, but just someone who follows his conscience.  He said he cannot be silent when facing what he called these evils (such as forced abortions) against women and children.

Chen says U.S. diplomats have been asked to maintain a low profile on his case as discussions continue with their Chinese counterparts on plans for him to travel to New York for a teaching fellowship.

In an interview with VOA earlier Tuesday, Chen said a Chinese official, authorized by the central government, recently visited him in the hospital to discuss details of his trip to the United States.

Chen said that while there has not been any substantial progress, he thinks his trip will eventually take place.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that the U.S. has finished processing his visa paperwork and that it has been ready for more than a week.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs