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China Continues to Persecute Family of Activist Chen Guangcheng

by Steven Ertelt | Beijing, China | LifeNews.com | 3/14/13 4:31 PM

International

Chen Guangcheng, the human rights advocate who escaped China after years of human rights abuses against him following his expose of massive forced abortion campaigns, may be enjoying a peaceful life in the United States.

But a new report in the New York Times profiling his family shows it still faces significant persecution from the Chinese government and family planning officials.

Almost a year after the Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng made an audacious escape from detention in his home village, his family there remains under surveillance and his jailed nephew has said he was beaten and warned by officials not to challenge his conviction, Mr. Chen and his older brother say.

Chen has repeatedly criticized the Chinese government as failing to live up to vows of rule of law and respect for rights. Now he and an older brother have described threats and surveillance that Mr. Chen said showed that tethers on dissent remain tight under the new Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, who was appointed in November.

“In fact, they’ve never stopped monitoring us for one day after Chen Guangcheng left,” the brother, Chen Guangfu, who lives in Dongshigu, in Shandong Province, said Wednesday. “There’s still surveillance in the village. The guards, they’re still here, just a bit more hidden.”

He said he was followed recently. “The situation is still quite tense here,” he said. He also reported new pressure on his son, Chen Kegui, who was sentenced to three years and three months in prison in November for assaulting and injuring a government official who broke into the family’s home in April during a frantic search for the escaped Mr. Chen. The brief trial was riddled with irregularities that thwarted the defense, lawyers supporting the family said.

When Chen Guangfu and other family members visited on Feb. 28, Chen Kegui told them he was beaten and threatened by guards before the trial, and that he had since been warned by prison officials not to try any appeals of his sentence, the father said.

And in New York, Chen Guangcheng said that detention center guards repeatedly “threatened him that if he did not follow their demands or if he appealed, he’d face a life sentence.”

“They also said that if he disobeyed then his parents and child could come under threat at any time,” said Mr. Chen, who cited accounts of the visit from the family. “That’s the reason why Chen Kegui told the court that he wouldn’t appeal.”

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LifeNews spoke with Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, who is one of the top human rights advcoates helping Chen and his family.

She said he Chinese Communist Party promised Chen Guangcheng that they would investigate the officials that had harassed and tortured his family while he was in Dongshigu Village and bring them to justice. Instead, they are continuing to harass the family and have detained and tortured Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui

Littlejohn stated, “The unfair trial, extended detention and torture of Chen Kegui show the Chinese Communist Party’s flagrant disrespect for the rule of law.  In my opinion, they are retaliating against Chen through his nephew.  I believe they continue to harass Chen’s family in an attempt to silence Chen.”

“Xi Jinping became the new President of China today,” Littlejohn added. “Women’s Rights Without Frontiers calls upon him to demonstrate his respect for the rule of law by freeing Chen Kegui and ceasing all harassment and intimidation of the relatives of Chen Guangcheng.  We also call upon Secretary John Kerry to advocate for the freedom of Chen Kegui and demand that the Chinese Communist Party come through on its promise to investigate and prosecute those who tortured Chen Guangcheng and his family.”