Women's Rights Without Frontiers released a statement that forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng of China is alive. An unconfirmed report went out in early October that Chen had died under house arrest. The group quotes an anonymous source as saying, "Now his mother is allowed to go outside to buy food although escorted by three guards, and his health also is getting better."
The source attributed the improved treatment of Chen to the fact that "Chen's situation was exposed and got huge public attention." One campaign that brought considerable visibility to Chen's plight was the flow of concerned citizens attempting to visit him for his fortieth birthday on November 12. Many of these citizens were beaten and detained.
Women's Rights Without Borders is using its "Chen Sunglasses Freedom" campaigns inside and outside of China to raise visibility about his case. These campaigns post photos of people wearing sunglasses in support of Chen.
The source also commended the video, "Free Chen Guangcheng," saying "People inside China weep when they watch it," she said. The source continued, "Chen's situation has indeed improved. I have just sent him some medicine and covered the expenses for his family in the market . . . Some relatives can visit his mother and deliver some items under surveillance."
The source cautioned, however, that the slightly improved condition of Chen's house arrest is not a reason to relax the campaign to free him. Most relatives of Chen and his wife are not allowed to visit, including their son and his wife's parents. Moreover, the fact that Chen is now allowed food and medicine "is still far away from our basic request, that is, Chen should be freed right away, according to China's own law."
According to the group's source, the persecution of Chen supporters continues. An activist who announced that she would wear sunglasses in Linyi's central square this weekend was detained on Thursday. Also Thursday, another activist from Yantai and a writer from Beijing, were arrested in Shandong attempting to distribute plastic bags and balloons bearing Chen's image, in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, celebrated December 3.
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, stated, "We are thrilled and relieved that Chen is alive and his health is improving. This improved treatment demonstrates the power of the collaborative effort inside and outside China to raise the visibility of his case. We greatly admire the brave citizens inside China, who are risking their safety to stand up for Chen."
Littlejohn added, "We commend the courageous and persistent efforts of Rep. Chris Smith to visit Chen and urge the Chinese government to grant him a visa. We also urge U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, to visit Chen. We demand the immediate, unqualified release of Chen Guangcheng and his family. Chen's ongoing house arrest is illegal and his medical condition remains weak." He will testify about Chen's case on December 6 before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and also appear on Voice of America China Branch's program, "Issues and Opinions," broadcast throughout China at 9:00 a.m. EST.
Chen's investigation exposed the fact that there were 130,000 forced abortions and sterilizations under China's One Child Policy, in Linyi County in 2005. He was jailed for four years and three months, during which time he was tortured and denied medical treatment. He and his family remain under house arrest.
- Info: Women's Rights