Blind Chinese human rights activist seeks asylum as Clinton visits Beijing

Chen Guancheng is now in a hospital and fearful for his safety. His nephew, Chen Kegui, was taken by police who now claim not to know his whereabouts.

A source knowledgeable about the blind rights defense lawyer Chen Guangcheng’s escape from his captors told Human Rights in China (HRIC) on April 27 that Chen is safe but did not want to leave China. Chen had earlier went over the wall and into the U.S. Embassy compound in Beijing. After consulting with U.S. diplomats for hours, he was convinced to leave the embassy and go to a local hospital. Media reports suggest that he is now in danger and that Chinese security forces have secured his family at their home. However, Chen now is begging for asylum for himself and his family. He reportedly said that his family has been threatened with being beaten to death by China's police, even while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the Chinese capital to discuss broad bilateral relations with the People's Republic of China.

HRIC reported that Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui, who himself had a violent confrontation with intruders entering his house from the local government during the early morning hours of April 27, was spirited away by more than 30 police officers later the same day from his home. Chen Kegui’s arrest, which was witnessed by his wife and mother, came one day after his father, Chen Guangfu —Chen Guangcheng’s older brother—was detained.

HRIC says that five lawyers have arrived in the village of Dongshigu in Shangdong Province, to assist the Chen family. When the lawyers asked about Chen Kegui, denied having taken him, claiming that he had escaped. The police now have issued a warrant for his arrest.

On April 27, a video of Chen Guangcheng was released by an overseas Chinese language news website Boxun and later posted on YouTube. In the video, Chen asked Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to bring to justice those who committed crimes against him and his family and the corrupt officials who have profited from maintaining his surveillance and house arrest over the years. Chen also asked for the protection of his family members.

In the video, Chen detailed many beatings that he and his family have suffered at the hands of dozens of police officers and Communist Party officials acting on orders from the Linyi City and Shuanghou Township authorities. He described the deployment of as many as several hundred people in layers of cordons that enforced his 18-month house arrest: policemen were stationed inside and outside his home, at the four corners of the road leading to his home, and sometimes in the neighboring village, and vehicles patrolled an area in a five-kilometer radius around his village. Chen also described officials bragging about the money they were making from the employment of the large contingent of men who maintained his and his wife’s confinement. Chen also said that he fears retaliation that would target his wife, mother, and children.

Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer, has served four years and three months in prison after he helped villagers resist forced abortions. Since his release in September 2010, he and his wife Yuan Weijing have been unlawfully kept under house arrest by local authorities.

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