In a new opinion column at the New York Times, Chen Guangcheng has begun to speak out about the problems back home in China.
Enjoying the freedom of speech the United States provides, Chen is, for the first time since China allowed the forced abortion opponent to come to the United States, exposing the problems of how Chinese officials violate their own laws to persecute their citizens.
Chen starts by sharing his goals for his stay in the United States.
Since I arrived in the United States on May 19, people have asked me, “What do you want to do here?” I have come here to study temporarily, not to seek political asylum. And while I pursue my studies, I hope that the Chinese government and the Communist Party will conduct a thorough investigation of the lawless punishment inflicted on me and my family over the past seven years.
I asked for such an investigation while I was hospitalized in Beijing, after I had left the refuge of the United States Embassy and American officials negotiated my reunification with my family. High officials from the Chinese government assured me that a thorough and public investigation would take place and that they would inform me of the results. I hope that this promise will be honored. But the government has often failed to fulfill similar commitments. I urge the government and people of the United States and other democratic countries to insist that the Chinese government make timely progress in this matter.
Chen explains that China doesn’t lack laws protecting its citizens, but refuses to abide by them and enforce them.
Although China’s criminal laws, like those of every country, are in need of constant improvement, if faithfully implemented they could yet offer its citizens significant protection against arbitrary detention, arrest and prosecution. Countless legal officials, lawyers and law professors have labored for decades to produce constitutional and legislative rules intended to prevent a recurrence of the nightmarish anti-rightist campaign and other “mass movements” of the 1950s and the later abominations of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.
Chen saws the lawlessness extends to the persecution his family faced.
The central government and the authorities in Shandong Province, Linyi City and Yinan County have many questions to answer. Why, beginning in 2005, did they illegally confine my family and me to our house in Dongshigu Village, cutting us off from all contact with other villagers and the world? Why, in 2006, did they falsely accuse me of damaging property and gathering a crowd to interfere with traffic and then, after farcical trials that excluded my witnesses and defense counsel, send me to prison for 51 months? On what legal basis, following my release from prison in 2010, did they turn our home into another, equally harsh, prison?
He indicates Chinese officials are further flouting the law against his family now that he is gone.
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But those protections have been frequently ignored in practice, as they were in my case and in the case of my nephew, Chen Kegui. After the local police discovered my escape from my village in April, a furious pack of thugs — not one in uniform, bearing no search or arrest warrants and refusing to identify themselves — scaled the wall of my brother Guangfu’s farmhouse in the dead of night, smashed through the doors and brutally assaulted my brother.
After detaining him, the gang returned twice more, severely beating my sister-in-law and nephew with pickax handles. At that point, Kegui tried to fend them off by seizing a kitchen knife and stabbing, but not killing, three of the attackers.
Kegui, who is 32 years old, was then detained in Yinan County and, absurdly, charged with attempted homicide. No one has been able to reach him, and he has most likely been tortured even more severely than his father was. Although China signed the United Nations convention against torture in 1988 and has enacted domestic laws to implement it, torture to extract confessions is still prevalent.
Moreover, none of the lawyers his family has sought to retain have been allowed to work on the case. Instead, the authorities have announced that Kegui will be forced to accept the assistance of government-controlled legal-aid lawyers.
Read the full opinion column here.