After initial reports showed Chan Guangcheng, a prominent human rights activist who had led the fight against forced abortions under the one-child policy in China, may have been killed now new reports show he may still be alive.
LifeNews reported in October that Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and Bob Fu, President of the China Aid Association — both human rights groups that closely monitor the one-child policy in China — has received reports from local contacts saying Chen had been killed.
According to Radio Free Asia, Chinese authorities detained a group of at least nine human rights activists trying to visit Chen. Many members of the group were cut off from communication and, according to a report by Canyu, Shandong authorities shot at these activists. Voice of America reports that villagers told it “Chen is dead already,” but the media outlet was still trying to verify the claim.
Solid information is hard to come by due to the fact that Chen has been confined to house arrest in his village since his release from prison after serving a four-year term on trumped up charges local population control officials manufactured after he exposed a brutal campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations in the city of Linyi.
Now, a source inside China told Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that Chen is alive. According to this source, who requested anonymity, “Now his mother is allowed to go outside to buy food although escorted by three guards, and his health also is getting better.”
The source attributed the improved treatment of Chen to the fact that “Chen’s situation was exposed and got huge public attention.” One campaign that brought considerable visibility to Chen’s plight was the flow of concerned citizens attempting to visit him for his fortieth birthday on November 12. Many of these citizens were beaten and detained.
In addition, the “Chen Sunglasses Freedom” campaigns inside and outside of China have raised the visibility of his case. These campaigns post photos of people wearing sunglasses in support of Chen.
The local source told Littlejohn’s group, “I think it’s great. I think it’s very helpful for people all over the world to show they care about Chen through the Sunglasses campaigns. I think it’s very important to show support inside and outside the country – we can work together.”
The source also commended the video, “Free Chen Guangcheng,” saying that watching this video has inspired many to take action. “People inside China weep when they watch it,” she said.
“Chen’s situation has indeed improved. I have just sent him some medicine and covered the expenses for his family in the market,” the source continued. “Some relatives can visit his mother and deliver some items under surveillance.”
The source cautioned, however, that the slightly improved condition of Chen’s house arrest is not a reason to relax the campaign to free him. Most relatives of Chen and his wife are not allowed to visit, including their son and his wife’s parents. Moreover, the fact that Chen is now allowed food and medicine “is still far away from our basic request, that is, Chen should be freed right away, according to China’s own law.”
According to the source, the persecution of Chen supporters continues. An activist who announced that she would wear sunglasses in Linyi’s central square this weekend was detained on Thursday. Also Thursday, another activist from Yantai and a writer from Beijing, were arrested in Shandong attempting to distribute plastic bags and balloons bearing Chen’s image, in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, celebrated December 3.
Littlejohn told LifeNews, “We are thrilled and relieved that Chen is alive and his health is improving. This improved treatment demonstrates the power of the collaborative effort inside and outside China to raise the visibility of his case. We greatly admire the brave citizens inside China, who are risking their safety to stand up for Chen.”
“We commend the courageous and persistent efforts of Rep. Chris Smith to visit Chen and urge the Chinese government to grant him a visa,” she said. “We also urge U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, to visit Chen. We demand the immediate, unqualified release of Chen Guangcheng and his family. Chen’s ongoing house arrest is illegal and his medical condition remains weak.”
Littlejohn will testify regarding Chen’s case before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China at a hearing to be held on Tuesday, December 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. On Wednesday, December 7, she will appear on Voice of America China Branch’s program, “Issues and Opinions,” broadcast throughout China at 9:00 a.m. EST.