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Activists: Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng 'Safe'

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com.
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is seen in a video posted on YouTube on April 27, 2012 by the Chinese news website Boxun.com.
Nico Colombant

Human rights activists said Friday that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who has spoken out against forced abortions, is safe after escaping house arrest earlier this month. But his exact location has not been confirmed.

Friends and fellow activists say Chen escaped Sunday, evading guards who had been keeping him inside his home in the eastern Shandong province.

They say Chen, who is blind, fled at night by scaling a high wall and was taken by car, evading checkpoints, before making it to Beijing.

Chen Guangchen background:

  • Self-taught lawyer, blinded by a fever in infancy
  • Jailed in 2006 after exposing forced abortions and sterilizations
  • Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2006
  • Under house arrest since his release from prison in September, 2010
  • Escaped his heavily-guarded home on April 22, 2012
  • Posted video online days later detailing abuses he says he and his family suffered

Chen, a self-taught lawyer, has accused authorities of forcing thousands of women to have late-term abortions or sterilizations under China's policy of restricting the size of most families. Chen and his family were put under round-the-clock house arrest in 2010, after he was released from a four-year jail sentence.

Close friend and fellow activist Hu Jia said Friday that he believed Chen was allowed into the U.S. embassy in Beijing, but this has not been confirmed.

A U.S. embassy spokesman said he did not have any information on Chen. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman repeatedly said during her daily briefing Friday that she had no comment on Chen.

Chen released an online video Friday addressed to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in which Chen said he had been beaten.  

New Jersey Representative Chris Smith has raised awareness about Chen's plight.

"I am relieved to hear the reported news of human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng's escape from extended illegal home confinement and hope that he is safe as his supporters have indicated," he said.

But Smith said he is worried about the safety of Chen's family members.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch called on China to guarantee Chen's safety.  

Another U.S.-based group, All Girls Allowed, which campaigns against gender-selective abortions, released a statement calling on the U.S. government to keep China accountable and to protect Chen, if he is at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

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Comments page of 2
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by: A man of the north
April 27, 2012 2:06 PM
"He also issued demands to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, including a call for all human rights offenders to be severely punished." Are you checking if we are blind too? And protesting against one child policy? What do you suggest of China...a baby boom to 2 billion people?

by: Wangdhuk
April 27, 2012 10:55 AM
The CCP has been persecuting Chen for years & mistreated him. I hope Chen makes it to US or UK Embassy & gets asylum.
Comments page of 2
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