Chen Guangcheng, a blind attorney who has been the leading campaigner in China against forced abortions, has escaped house arrest. He had been under house arrest and prevented by family planning officials from leaving his home for months following serving a bogus prison sentence on trumped up charges.
Chen escaped earlier this week from his home where he had been held under harsh and violent house arrest conditions since his September 2010 release from prison. The human rights organization ChinaAid learned recently that Chen’s friends and family report Chen has been brought to Beijing and he is no longer in any danger.
There is speculation that Chen is in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and ChinaAid reports it was asked on Friday to make news of his escape known today. Chen reportedly intends to “fight to the end for the freedom of my family inside China. I want to live a normal life as a Chinese citizen with my family.”
Yaxue Cao, a key Chinese human rights activist who has been advocating on behalf of Chen Guangcheng, told Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, another top anti-forced abortion organization, that she spoke with Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui. Kegui’s mother overheard guards saying that Chen Guangcheng had “disappeared” from his home.
Meanwhile, police have arrested one of the friends who helped drive Chen on April 22 from his home in Dongshigu village, Shuanghou town, Linyi city, Shandong province to a safe location in another province. He Peirong was in communication with ChinaAid when she was arrested at her home in Nanjing, coastal Jiangsu province, on Friday. She has not responded to later efforts to reach her.
He Peirong also spoke with Littlejohn and said she helped Chen escape to an undisclosed location outside of Shandong. She said that his health is stable, but she fears he is in danger. She also stated that the fate of Chen’s wife, mother, daughter and son may be in jeopardy as well.
ChinaAid has also learned that police have also taken into custody Chen’s older brother and his nephew, Chen Guangfu and Chen Kegui, respectively. The father and son were taken from their home early Friday morning. Chen Kegui reportedly had stabbed some government officials who broke into his home early in the morning by climbing over the back wall and Chen, mistaking them for burglars, attacked them.
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“We must report the true fact of this case and not let the Chinese propaganda machine spin this story as they see fit,” said Bob Fu of ChinaAid. “We will stand with Chen and work with the international community and world media to fight for his freedom.”
ChinaAid has briefed the U.S. State Department and congressional and White House officials about Chen’s situation, and has also worked with major wire services, newspapers and radio to get out Chen’s story.
“We admire Chen’s extraordinary courage and his unwavering desire to fight for the fundamental rights owed every Chinese citizen,” Fu said. “We urge the U.S. government and other democratic nations to show the courage of their convictions and protect this brave rights defender.”
Littlejohn told LifeNews, “We are grateful that Chen is no longer under house arrest, but we are concerned about his safety and that of his family. We call upon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton specifically to raise Chen’s case during her visit to Beijing May 3-4. Indeed, we call upon the entire international diplomatic community to make urgent, official interventions on behalf of Chen with the Chinese government. We call upon NGOs and concerned citizens the world over strongly to support this great hero during his hour of need.”