News / Asia

Concern Grows Over Plight of Blind Activist Lawyer in China

Chen Guangcheng (file photo)
Chen Guangcheng (file photo)
William Ide

Concern is growing over the plight of Chen Guangcheng, a prominent blind legal activist in China, after recent attempts to visit him failed and resulted in the beating, human rights groups say, of several supporters and detainment of at least three. U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates met in Washington Tuesday to discuss the case and what can be done to help Chen who remains under strict house arrest in his home village of Linyi in eastern Shandong province.

Human rights advocates say that on Sunday when supporters and rights defenders in China tried to travel to Chen Guangcheng's home, they were not only stopped but forcefully deterred from visiting the activist.

Sharon Hom is the executive director of Human Rights in China. "Eyewitnesses told us that over the weekend about 37 rights defenders and netizens who attempted to visit Chen were beaten by around 100 unidentified individuals. Many of them were seriously injured," she said.

In her testimony on Tuesday, Hom told a hearing of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China that supporters were stopped some 200 meters away from Chen's village.

She says that when police did arrive, three activists were taken away, their cellphones turned off and they have not been heard from since.

Despite such challenges and the fact that authorities are removing postings about Chen from the Twitter-like web site Weibo, about 100 people have already tried to visit his home.

Shanghai activist Feng Zhenghu has been gathering signatures in an online petition to free Chen and a blog has been set up online where supporters can post pictures of themselves in dark sunglasses just like Chen Guangcheng.

Concerns about Chen's condition have been growing since he was released from jail last year. The U.S. advocacy group ChinaAid says that in addition to being confined to his home, Chen and his wife endured a brutal four hour beating by local authorities in July in the presence of their elementary school daughter.

The group, quoting reliable sources says Chen also endured a similarly brutal beating in February after they managed to smuggle out a videotape documenting conditions of their house arrest.

Rights advocates and lawmakers are urging the U.S. government to put more pressure on the Chinese government and to mention Chen Guangcheng's case publicly.

However, Jerome Cohen, a China legal expert who testified at the same hearing, says we shouldn't overexaggerate the impact overt government efforts might have to improve the situation. "To be really effective they have to be accompanied not only by U.N. organization activities, but a lot of these more popular NGO [non-governmental organizations], spontaneous petitions, educational efforts, committee hearings like this. I think its got to be an overall package because I think then the Chinese government will show a response," he said.

So far, Chinese authorities have wavered little in Chen's case. Online petitions have helped, activists note, in helping Chen's daughter attend school.

She was previously barred, but now is accompanied to and from school by security agents, activists say.

Chen Guangcheng was jailed in 2006 after accusing local family planning officials of forcing women to undergo abortions or sterilization, in adherence to China's one-child policy.

Cohen says Chen's treatment that has followed his release from jail is more than just local vengeance. "This is part of a national strategy of the Communist Party and the central authorities for dealing with the current situation where they are confronted by increasing unrest, increasing foreign upset about lack of rule of law in China that comes up under many different contexts," he said.

To deal with this, he says, China is passing a growing number of laws, but selectively enforcing them when they want to.  In Chen's case, activists and supporters argue that authorities have persistently ignored China's laws and his basic rights. They say Chen's case is part of a continuing and severe crackdown on lawyers, activists and rights advocates.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid