Freedom Eludes Chinese Lawyer Cheng Guangcheng After Prison Release
Blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng returned to his home in eastern Shandong province last Thursday (September 9) after completing a four-year prison term. But since his release, authorities have placed him under house arrest.
[Jiang Tianyong, Chinese Human Rights Lawyer]:
Authorities have warned him that not only is he not allowed to leave home, if he makes contact with the outside by telephone, they’ll send him back to jail. They told him this would be easy to do. The authorities want to cut off access to them, and hope people would stop contacting them. If anything happened to them, we wouldn’t know about it.
Chen told Radio Free Asia that he was severely beaten in jail in 2007. He is also suffering from severe diarrhea after a food poisoning incident in prison. On Sunday, Chen said authorities are stopping him from leaving home to get medical treatment. Chen’s wife has also been barred from leaving their home to go grocery shopping.
Those who’ve tried to contact Chen say local authorities have set up extensive surveillance around his neighborhood, and his family’s cell phones have been blocked.
[Gua Yushan, Beijing Scholar]:
On [Wednesday], a lot more people came and surrounded their home. A few days ago the whole village was installed with surveillance cameras. Chen was moved from a small prison to a larger one.
Chen Guangcheng is a blind self-taught lawyer, and began defending the rights of farmers and the disabled in 1998. He then represented women who were forced to have late-term abortions and sterilization under the Chinese regime’s one-child policy.
In 2006 he was charged with damaging public property and gathering people to block traffic, after he had documented late-term abortions in Linyi City. Chen’s supporters say the charges were fabricated.
Rights advocates around the world have condemned the Chinese regime’s treatment of Chen, and are calling on authorities to guarantee Chen’s personal freedom now that he’s been released from prison.