China: United States: Wait for Chen Guangcheng's departure cause for concern

A week after the US and China informally agreed to allow Chen and his family to leave for the US, the blind activist remains de facto under house arrest in the hospital where he is being tread. The entire family cannot leave, and friends, diplomats and journalists cannot visit. Police "advises" ...

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chen Guangcheng's friends are increasingly worried about the fate of the blind activists in light of the slow pace with which Chinese authorities are preparing his departure overseas. Many have started to think that his hospitalisation is a form of house arrest.

Until his escape, Chen, 40, was under house arrest for 20 months at his home in the town of Lin Yi, together with his wife and young daughter.

Before that he spent, four and half years in prison for telling the world that Shandong authorities were involved in forced abortions and sterilisations.

On 22 April, he snuck out of his home and found refuge at the US Embassy in Beijing. He left the compound before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met her Chinese counterpart as part of US-Chinese strategic and economic summit in the Chinese capital.

When he left the Embassy, he was taken to Chaoyang Hospital with a promise from China and the United States that he would be granted a visa to study in New York.

However, a week after being admitted to hospital, where Chen is recovering from a foot injury he suffered during his escape, there is no sign of a solution.

Chaoyang Hospital is surrounded by police day and night. Chen and his family, finally together, cannot leave the building. Chen's supporters who want to visit him are turned away.

Some, like human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, underwent interrogation for an entire day. Before he was let go, he was "advised" to stay away from Beijing for the next few months.

US representatives who were supposed to watch over Chen's safety have also not been allowed to visit him. The same goes for journalists.

Many friends who want to visit Chen have been detained and put in prison.

Chen can use his mobile phone for interviews or talk with others but his phone is often blocked.

Speaking to AFP, Chen said that the central government should open an investigation against the Shandon officials who put him under house arrest and who continue to harass and detain some of his relatives. In a youtube video, he names those officials.

"The central government needs to prove they were not behind my treatment in Shandong," Chen said in a phone interview from the hospital. "I told them if they did not investigate [the illegal house arrest], then everyone will believe that they ordered it." However, "If they go down and punish those in Shandong, then people will believe that this was the doing of officials in Shandong."

Source: Asia News


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