by Steven Ertelt
September 7, 2005
Beijing, China (LifeNews.com) — A grassroots activist who has led a campaign against China’s coercive population control policies that involve forced abortions and sterilizations has been arrested. Chen Guangcheng, a 34 year-old blind peasant had been preparing a class-action lawsuit challenging abuses in his eastern hometown of Linyi associated with China’s one-child policy.
Local authorities arrested Chen on Tuesday in what appears to be an effort to prevent him from meeting with a handful of senior government officials who backed him. Ironically, an international legal conference is scheduled to open in Linyi this week.
According to a Washington Post report, several plainclothes officials grabbed Chen when he left his apartment building, witnesses said. Chen shouted and tried to resist as the men dragged him to an unmarked cart with tinted windows and drove away.
Watching the event unfold, a small group of Chen supporters surrounded the vehicle in an attempt to prevent it from driving away and could see Chen writhing in pain and screaming.
Residents contacted Beijing police, who came and consulted with the men who apprehended Chen. After the brief conversation, the men were allowed to leave with Chen in tow. Police told locals that the men were police from China’s eastern Shandong province, where Linyi is located.
"We feel this is extremely inappropriate,” Li Heping, one of the lawyers working with Chen, told the Post. He said the Linyi officials appeared to be "taking revenge on him for trying to protect the rights of local citizens and exercising his right to criticize the government.”
Tu Bisheng, a friend who was with Chen at the time, said local Linyi officials were present as well. He told the Post that Chen’s detention came shortly after a meeting he had with reporters form Time magazine. Chen had also recently visited with other newspaper reporters, diplomats from the U.S. Embassy, and several attorneys in Beijing who have volunteered to help him in the case.
Chen has gone after Linyi, a city of 10 million people 400 miles southeast of Beijing, because officials there have begun a serious crackdown on violators of the one-child policy.
Linyi population control officials have required parents with two children to be sterilized and forced pregnant women to have abortions. Anyone who attempts to flee is apprehended, beaten, and held hostage in city prisons until their relatives come forward and pay large fines for their release.