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.
William Ide
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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs