by Steven Ertelt
June 16, 2006
Beijing, China (LifeNews.com) — Ignoring the potential danger and political troubles for themselves, a group of prominent Beijing lawyers have banded together to take up the case of Chen Guangcheng. Chen is a blind political activist who set off an international controversy when he exposed a Chinese city’s brutal forced abortion and sterilization campaign.
The lawyers have formed a coalition to argue for Chen’s freedom. After spending months aft home under house arrest, LifeNews.com reported earlier this week that Chinese police recently took him into custody.
Beijing lawyer Teng Biao, who has been helping Chen, told the Financial Times that 10 attorneys plan to ignore the potential risks and fallout and travel to Shandong, a large city south of Beijing, to argue his case and ask for him to receive fair treatment from the government.
"Our goal is to go there and state our position," Teng told the Financial Times, adding that the attorneys would be there to "back up" the two main attorneys presenting Chen’s case. They will also step in if local officials prevent the pair from representing Chen.
Teng indicated there is a chance the attorneys could be assaulted for their participation and they or their families could face pressure from the government, including potential imprisonment.
"There’s definitely a chance they [the lawyers] will get beaten," said Teng. "That’s something we are well-prepared for."
Chen had been missing without his family or human rights campaigners knowing his whereabouts, but Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, confirmed he had been arrested. Police asked her to sign a document listing the charges against him. They include accusations that he intended to destroy public property and disrupt commerce and transport.
“The charges are groundless," Yuan told Asia News earlier this week.
The charges come from a protest in his hometown in February against his house arrest.
Chen, who is blind and an attorney himself, had been organizing a class action lawsuit against the city of Linyi at the time of his initial arrest.
Chen is credited with exposing a forced abortion and sterilization scandal in Linyi where 7,000 women had been forcibly aborted or sterilized. Anyone who attempted to flee was apprehended, beaten, and held hostage in city prisons until their relatives came forward and paid large fines for their release.
He exposed the events in interviews with Time Magazine and the Washington Post and local Linyi officials apprehended him shortly thereafter.
Chen’s freedom was restricted and he was arrested from a hiding place in Beijing by Linyi officials who say he provided "intelligence" to foreigners.
Chen and his wife and 71 year-old mother were under house arrest beginning in September last year. The officials cut his telephone lines and used specialized equipment to prevent him from using his cell phone.
Chen has been beaten twice when he’s attempted to leave and attorneys and supporters who have taken up Chen’s case have been attacked as well.
Linyi is a city of 10 million people 400 miles southeast of Beijing.
ACTION: Contact China’s embassy in the United States and encourage officials there to help Chen Guangcheng. You can find contact information at https://www.china-embassy.org/eng/sgxx/dfzygy/t44338.htm
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