Trial of China Forced Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng Begins Friday

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Trial of China Forced Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng Begins Friday Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 16, 2006

Linyi, China ( — Chinese forced abortion activist Chen Guangcheng will be put on a bogus trial on Friday by local officials in the eastern city of Linyi. Chen has received international attention after Linyi authorities arrested him on trumped up charges after he exposed their brutal family planning campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations.

Chen’s attorney Li Jinsong told the Associated Press the trial will be conducted in county court in Yinan, China, a city north of Linyi in the same Shangdong province where the brutalities took place.

Chen, who is blind, could receive up to five years in jail if found guilty of the fabricated charges and Li said he will not plead guilty.

"It will probably be an open trial, as it doesn’t involve any state secrets," he said, adding that the outcome of the trial "all depends on how they view the evidence."

Li also said that Chen’s relatives had not been told whether they could attend the trial, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Chen brought the forced abortion family planning campaign to the attention of American media outlets and said as many as 10,000 women in the province were forced to have abortions or sterilized against their will. Chinese media frequently censor news coming from the Asian nation.

Anyone who attempted to flee the brutality was apprehended, beaten, and held hostage in city prisons until their relatives came forward and paid large fines for their release.

Chen was later arrested on trumped up charges related to a protest of the house arrests of his family and others. Last year he was organizing a class action lawsuit against the Linyi government when he started coming under persecution.

Local officials were prepared to hold a trial last month, but delayed it for unknown reasons.

Chen’s attorneys say the Chinese government is turning a blind eye because it often allows local governments great leeway in putting down political unrest. They also say leading Chinese officials have been lied to about Chen’s situation.

Linyi officials have persuaded some top Chinese leaders that Chen’s efforts are supported by overseas groups and they successfully lobbied the Foreign Ministry and the powerful Propaganda Department to ban any discussion of Chen’s case in the state media or on the Internet.

Chen and his wife and 70 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.

Linyi police have placed Chen’s mother, wife and child under house arrest.

Earlier this month, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey asked Chinese officials to press for Chen’s release.

Sauerbrey said she made the request during a meeting of the China-U.S. Global Issues Forum, going on in Beijing.

"We believe that there has been a certain violation of normal standards and are urging China to release him from imprisonment," Sauerbrey said, according to a Washington Post report.

Sauerbrey, a pro-life advocate, is the head of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

"For China’s own reputation," Sauerbrey said, "our hope is just that if we keep a focus on the issue, that China will recognize that it is in their best interest to release this gentleman from jail."

"We encourage China at every opportunity to live up to that commitment and to not involve itself in coercive measures, abortion, sterilization," she said.

Sauerbrey’s request was the second time the Bush administration had pressed for Chen’s release. Linyi officials, in late May, prevented two senior U.S. diplomats from trying to visit Chen’s wife.

ACTION: Contact China’s embassy in the United States and encourage officials there to help Chen Guangcheng. You can find contact information at