With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top U.S. officials having left China and no definitive date in sight when forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng could leave the country, Chinese officials are now detaining his family members.
The Christian Science Monitor newspaper reports today that Chen’s brother and sister-in-law have been detained as Chinese officials focus on targeting his family and supporters even while claiming to be honoring two separate agreements U.S. officials made on Chen’s behalf.
Authorities in the hometown of blind activist Chen Guangcheng have notched up restrictions on members of his extended family while he awaits permission in Beijing to travel abroad under an agreement between China and the US.
Chen Guangcheng’s brother and sister-in-law have been placed under house arrest, his nephew is in police detention, and another half-dozen relatives face some form of restriction on their movements in their village in Shandong province, according to Chen, his lawyers and a rights group.
His nephew, Chen Kegui, is believed to have been detained in relation to a clash he had with officials who reportedly broke into his home after discovering that the activist had escaped in late April.
The nephew’s arrest notification allegedly says he is suspected of attempted “intentional homicide,” said Liu Weiguo, a lawyer who volunteered to defend Kegui but has yet to see the notification document himself. Liu said at least one local communist party official was injured in the April 26 fight but no one died.
The Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of activists in China, said around a dozen of Chen’s relatives in the village of Dongshigu are under some form of house arrest, including Chen’s cousin and the cousin’s son.
The group says its activists have direct contact with Chen Guangcheng’s extended family members, and that they are vulnerable to retaliation by the local authorities.
“Even when the international spotlight is on Chen, his extended family has been cut off from communicating with the outside world, and his nephew is in police custody,” said Wang Songlian, a researcher with the group. “What is going to happen once the spotlight shifts? It is extremely worrying.”
The recriminations are coming because Chen told the newspaper local family planning and Communist Party officials in his hometown are upset that his case received national attention and massive support from the international community and the United States.
“I feel that Shandong’s retribution against me has already started,” Chen said.
Hannah Beech of ChinaAid recently wrote at LifeNews, “Chen is now enduring virtual imprisonment by Chinese forces at the hospital, where he is being treated for the injuries he sustained during his escape from his guarded farmhouse. American diplomats have not been able to meet him face to face since Wednesday, save a short confab in which they largely discussed his health issues, which include a broken foot and stomach problems.”
“In the meantime, a number of Chen’s lawyers and sympathizers who tried to visit him at the hospital have been beaten up or dragged away. Others who played a part in his escape and flight to the U.S. embassy are now under house arrest; even activists whose apparent crime was speaking to him by phone after his departure from the embassy face similar restrictions,” she added.
A deal secured on Fridaythat had China allowing forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng to submit an application allowing him to possibly leave the country to come to the United States has taken much of the focus off of his tenuous situation. But significant concerns remain.
Chen told the Associated Press earlier this week he is confident China will uphold its end of the bargain and allow him to apply and approve the application for him and his family to travel to the United States to study at New York University.
“Since the Chinese government has promised to safeguard my constitutionally provided rights and freedom and safety, I feel that they will fulfill their commitments because it is, after all, an agreement between two countries,” Chen said, with AP describing him as “more relaxed and optimistic than on Friday morning before details of the deal were announced.”
“There may be a few obstacles, but I believe it will work out OK. They agreed to let me go abroad in full public view. They should let me go. This is my civil right,” he said.
Chen remains at a Beijing hospital in order to receive treatment for a fractured leg he sustained in his daring escape from home detention at the hands of family planning and Communist Party officials upset that he exposed a massive forced abortion and sterilization campaign in his hometown of Linyi. He told AP he has received help from hospital officials in completing the paperwork necessary for the Chinese government.
“I entrusted the hospital with telling the relevant people or department that I have asked them to handle it on my behalf, because I am lying on the bed and I can’t move and my friends can’t come and see me, so what can I do? I can only ask them,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden said in a Sunday interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Chinese should honor the agreement to allow Chen to come to the United States, saying U.S. officials “expect the Chinese to stick to that commitment.”
Meanwhile, new reports are surfacing showing Chen had a severe case of gastroenteritis when he entered the embassy, as U.S. officials are providing more explanation on how they handled his case.
In a daring rescue attempt, human rights campaigners helped Chen escape his home confinement and took him to an, at the time, undisclosed location in Beijing — reportedly the U.S. Embassy. Leading pro-life campaigners and human rights groups are concerned that if Chen is not protected, Chinese officials may illegally detain him and send him back to prison, home detention or may take his life.
China’s state-run media initially said absolutely nothing about the daring escape Chen Guangcheng made from his house arrest, where family planning and Communist Party officials had kept him detained at home for exposing forced abortions. Other media outlets have glossed over the forced abortion components of Chen’s imprisonment and house arrest.
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What is not in dispute is the fact that the Chinese government has subjected men and women to forced abortions, sterilziations, home detention and imprisonment, taken away their jobs and benefits and fined them for violating the nation’s one child policy. As the world watches the plight of Chen Guangcheng and wonders whether President Barack Obama will have the United States offer him long-term diplomatic protection, documents Chen Guangcheng compiled place the focus squarely on why China subjected him to years of house arrest: brutal forced abortions.
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, has released a compendium of Chen Guangcheng’s field notes about forced abortion and sterilization in China and the stories the blind attorney compiled are shocking, even for those familiar with the forced abortion abuses that take place as a result of China’s one-child policy.
“In the astonishment surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s extraordinary escape from house arrest, let us not forget why he was arrested,” Littlejohn told LifeNews. “In 2006, Chen exposed the Chinese government’s systematic, massive use of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization to enforce its “One Child Policy.’”
WRWF obtained a copy of Chen’s field notes and has released the first English translation of them.
“A member of Chen’s team, human rights attorney Teng Biao, drafted this 2005 investigative report into coercive family planning in Linyi City, Shandong Province,” Littlejohn explained. “The report contains extensive witness statements from cases Chen and his team were investigating before Chen was jailed.”