The saga surrounding Chen Guangcheng includes a wide variety of Chinese dissidents who provided active support to the leading opponent of forced abortions and the one-child policy in the nation — but none, perhaps, as daring as He Peirong.
“According to Peirong, Chen spent months on his back, pretending to be near death, so that his guards would relax their vigilance,” says Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. “Then on April 22, with exquisite timing, he scaled a wall and ran for his life, taking several wrong turns and falling into a river because of his blindness. Peirong drove 20 hours to meet Chen and fooled the village guards into letting her in. She disguised herself as a courier.”
“Then she drove Chen another eight hours – still wet from his fall in the river – to safety in Beijing. Their plan was so masterfully executed that the authorities did not realize Chen was gone for four days,” Littlejohn said.
Once authorities discovered that Chen was missing, the reprisals began and He Peirong was apprehended and detained by police.
Today, He was released from police custody in her home city of Nanjing, according to multiple news reports and information Chinese activists have provided via Twitter. She confirmed via a message on twitter that she was home safely but added she has been told by Chinese officials that she must decline interviews.
“I went home, all is well, thank everybody,” she said.
Still, she has been talking with the media, telling CNN “I just got home and I’m doing okay.”
Although He confirmed her safety on the phone to other Chinese activists, Littlejohn tells LifeNews she is still awaiting her own confirmation from her friend, with whom she was having a conversation via Skype when He was apprehended.
“There was a tweet from her saying that she’s back at home,” Littlejohn said. “However, I’ve emailed and tried to Skype her, and she hasn’t answered, so there’s no way of saying definitively that she is out. I hope it’s true and await confirmation.”
Hear audio of He describing Chen’s escape and her release from police custody:
When the escape happened, Littlejohn described how He was apprehended.
“As news of Chen’s escape was breaking, I skyped with Peirong on and off all Thursday night from Dublin, where I had testified about Chen at the Irish Parliament. Peirong was alone and worried – about Chen and his family, and about her own safety. Peirong knew that the price of securing Chen’s freedom might be her own,” she said. “At about 5:00 a.m. Dublin time, I skyped Peirong one last time and she did not answer. She had been detained, and no one has heard from her since. We don’t know if Peirong is being tortured or whether her detention will last days, months or years.”
“In pressing for Chen’s freedom, let us also press for the freedom of his rescuer, He Peirong, a hero in her own right. She stood up for Chen during his time of greatest need. The least we can do is stand by her as she pays a terrible price for her courage,” she added.
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