by Steven Ertelt
August 23, 2007
Beijing, China (LifeNews.com) — Chen Guangcheng’s wife Yuan Weijing has been placed under house arrest in Beijing less than a day before she was set to fly to the Philippines to accept an award on his behalf. Chen, who has won international acclaim for his fight against forced abortions, was set to receive the Asian equivalent of the Nobel prize.
Yuan says she doesn’t know whether Chinese officials will allow her to travel to Manilla to attend the awards banquet on Chen’s behalf.
She says their decision will be a major test of how China will handle human rights abuse issues in advance of the 2008 Olympics the nation is hosting.
"China has promised to improve human rights before the Olympics. If I am not allowed to go overseas, it will reflect very badly on my country," she said.
Chen, a blind attorney, was arrested as he prepared a class action lawsuit against the government of the eastern city of Linyi for forcing thousands of women to have forced abortions and be forcibly sterilized as a part of the nation’s family planning program.
After two trials, which saw his attorneys and key witnesses prevented from attending, Chen was sent to prison for four years for destroying property in a protest he never attended.
As LifeNews.com has reported, the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation has acknowledged his heroic efforts and made him the 2007 award recipient for Emergent Leadership.
Yuan planned to attend the event and accept the award on Chen’s behalf.
"He was very excited to hear he had won the award," she told the London Guardian. "He wanted to go to the Philippines to collect it himself, but the prison guards said that is impossible."
Yuan told the newspaper plain-clothes police officers have stepped up security at the compound where she is staying in Beijing with other prominent dissidents. She went to the nation’s capital city to plead Chen’s case.
She said she will do everything possible to get to the awards ceremony for her husband.
"I will try. If they stop me there is nothing I can do; it will not be my problem, it will be the problem of those who try to block me," she said.
Yuan had to escape a house arrest in Linyi to get to Beijing but she has been motivated by a short visit with her husband in prison. There, she saw the injuries he sustained in a beating by fellow prisoners, who were likely encouraged by prison officials to attack Chen.
"He had refused to have his hair shaven off because he didn’t consider himself a criminal," Yuan told the Guardian. "The prisoners would never have beaten him unless they had permission from the wardens. That is why I came to Beijing. I wanted to tell everyone what is happening to my husband."