China Prevents Forced Abortion Opponent’s Wife From Accepting Award

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 24,

Beijing, China ( — Chinese authorities have prevented the wife of a prominent activist against forced abortions from going to the Philippines to accept a prestigious award on his behalf. Chen Guangcheng’s wife Yuan Weijing had hoped to fly there to accept what is considered the Asian equivalent of the Nobel prize.

Fellow human rights activists tell the media that Chinese officials revoked her passport even though it is a valid one she has used before.

Authorities prevented her from boarding her flight to the Philippines and removed her luggage from the plane.

According to an AP report, they confiscated her passport and cell phone as she attempted to go through security at the airport in Beijing.

Yuan attempted to call fellow activist Hu Jia to let him know of her troubles but the call was cut off and his attempts to call her back failed. She was able to make contact again later in the day to say her luggage had been removed and that she had been "kidnapped" but provided no other details.

“The biggest loser here is not Yuan Weijing and not the Magsaysay Foundation but the Chinese government,” Hu told AP. “This just really shows how bad the human rights situation is here.”

Hu said Chinese officials cited a law preventing people who intend to harm the Asian nation from leaving the country.

The Magsaysay Foundation, which awarded Chen, said in a statement that it "regrets" China’s actions in preventing his wife from attending. But, as a nonpolitical group, it added that it respects “every country’s authority and its decisions with regard to the travel of its citizens.”

Before Chinese official prevented her form boarding the plan, Yuan said their decision would 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.

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."