Press Esc to close
Sunday 21 December 2014
News updated at 3:32 PM IST
Weather
Max: 28°C
Min : 17.6°C
In Bengaluru
Partially cloudy

Blind Chinese activist flees house arrest

Beijing, April 27, 2012, AP:

Dissident lawyer releases audacious video addressed to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao

A blind legal activist and inspirational figure in China’s rights movement fled the house arrest he has lived under and made it to a secret location in Beijing on Friday, setting off a frantic police search for him and those who helped him, activists said.

Chen Guangcheng’s escape, if ultimately successful, would boost a beleaguered civil rights community, which has faced rising arrests and other harassment over the past year.

Activists described an improbable escape, saying Chen slipped away from his well-guarded rural village on Sunday night, driven away by activists and then transferred to others who brought him to Beijing. By Friday afternoon, Chen “was 100 per cent in a safe location,” said Bob Fu, an activist based in Texas who runs the China Aid Association and who was in contact with people helping Chen. But Chen’s flight unleashed a police crackdown on his relatives and the people who helped him flee, activists said.

“I am now free. But my worries have not ended yet,” Chen said in an audacious video address to China’s Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday. A part of it was later posted on YouTube. It could not be independently verified. Speaking to a camera in a room with an off-white curtain drawn behind him, Chen said, “My escape might ignite a violent revenge against my family.”

A self-taught lawyer blinded by fever in infancy, Chen served four years in prison for exposing forced abortions and sterilisations in his and surrounding villages. Since his release in September 2010, local officials confined him to his home, despite the lack of legal grounds for doing so, beating him up on several occasions.

Chen was widely admired by rights activists at home who — led by blogger He Peirong — last year campaigned to publicise his case among ordinary Chinese and encourage them to go to Dongshigu village and break the security cordon. Even Hollywood actor Christian Bale tried to visit, but as with many others he was roughed up by locals paid to keep outsiders away.

Why activists spirited Chen to Beijing was not immediately known.
Though China’s most policed city, Beijing is home to foreign embassies that could provide asylum. Chen’s mistreatment has often seemed to be a vendetta by local officials, and perhaps Chen and his helpers thought a direct appeal to the central leadership would help.

The escape threatens to unleash a new wave of negative publicity for the authoritarian government when top leaders are already dealing with the fallout from the toppling of a former powerful politician, cashiered amid allegations of corruption, murder and abuse of power.

Online rumours and unconfirmed reports said Chen had sought protection at the US or another foreign embassy. The US Embassy declined comment.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Christmas tree ornaments are displayed for customers at the Christmas ...

Christmas tree ornaments are displayed for customers at the Christmas ...

A cyclist takes a ride along the bike path off Truxtun Extension...

A cyclist takes a ride along the bike path off Truxtun Extension...

A participant during the Kambala, a traditional buffalo race...

A participant during the Kambala, a traditional buffalo race...

A large gathering at Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by VHP...

A large gathering at Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by VHP...

India's Ishant Sharma, center, celebrates with his teammates after he got the wicket...

India's Ishant Sharma, center, celebrates with his teammates after he got the wicket...

India's Umesh Yadav plays a shot during their play on day four of the second cricket test...

India's Umesh Yadav plays a shot during their play on day four of the second cricket test...

Australia's David Warner dives over the boundary rope trying to take a catch during their ...

Australia's David Warner dives over the boundary rope trying to take a catch during their ...

Indian American Richard Verma sworn-in as US Ambassador to India

Indian American Richard Verma sworn-in as US Ambassador to India

People takes protection against cold with woollens...

People takes protection against cold with woollens...

helicopter following a crash during the men's World Cup Downhill skiing...

helicopter following a crash during the men's World Cup Downhill skiing...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523