Chen Guangfu Forced to Return Home From Shanghai Visit

2013-08-20
Email story
Comment on this story
Share story
Print story
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Email
chen-guangfu-he-peirong-305
Dissident Chen Guangcheng's brother Chen Guangfu (l) with activist He Peirong (r) in Dongshigu village in Shandong province in August 2012.
Photo courtesy of He Peirong

The brother of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has been forcibly returned to the family's home village in the eastern province of Shandong after he traveled to Shanghai to thank activists for their support.

Chen Guangfu traveled to the city last week, staying at the home of a Shanghai-based petitioner, and visiting other rights activists there.

But by Tuesday, he had been detained by police and bundled aboard a train home, he said.

"They bought me a ticket, and I'm on the train now," he said. "They asked me what my purpose was in going to Shanghai. That's the main thing they kept pursuing."

"They asked me whom I'd met up with."

Shanghai-based rights activist Chen Jianfang said she was also detained alongside Chen Guangfu.

"I heard them talking about taking him to the railway station ... being escorted back to Shandong," she said. "They won't let him stay in Shanghai."

'Watching us'

A fellow activist surnamed Shi, said he had been waylaid by police from the Pudong New District police station early on Tuesday as he was buying breakfast, while Chen Guangfu had stayed at his apartment.

"After they entered my home, they told Chen Jianfang and Chen Guangfu to go with them to the police station," Shi said. "They also took their belongings with them."

"I think they had been watching us for a while."

Meanwhile, Shanghai-based activist Feng Zhenghu said Chen had come to Shanghai to meet up with petitioners and rights activists in the city.

"He wanted to thank them for all their support and help towards Chen Guangcheng," Feng said.

"They have definitely been watching us," he added. "They were probably very nervous as soon as Chen Guangfu showed up here."

Chen Qian, a rights activist based in the eastern province of Anhui, said he had also heard Chen's visit was motivated by gratitude for the widespread support shown to his brother.

"The Shanghai activists were forcibly detained, and [Chen Guangfu] was forcibly sent back [to his hometown]," he said.

Blind activist

Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer who exposed forced abortions under the country's one-child policy and defended the rights of ordinary people, has been living and studying law in New York since arriving in the U.S. in May 2012, after a diplomatic standoff between Washington and Beijing.

After 18 months of house arrest in Shandong's Dongshigu village, Chen Guangcheng outwitted his guards and made his way to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where Chinese and American officials eventually struck a deal allowing him and his family to go to New York to study.

The blind activist has said that he and his family experienced illegal detention and brutal beatings while under house arrest and that Beijing had promised him it would dismiss officials responsible for the mistreatment.

But the family says officials in Shandong have continued to break the law and have stepped up persecution aimed at its members.

Earlier this month, a senior U.S. official cited China's treatment of Chen Guangcheng's family as evidence of a worsening human rights situation, accusing Beijing of harassing activists' family members and repressing ethnic and religious minorities.

Uzra Zeya, acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, singled out Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo and human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng as examples of activists whose families have been victimized.

"This is a worrisome trend and one which we have raised at senior levels with the Chinese government," she said following U.S.-China human rights dialogues.

However, the Chinese delegation had urged "the U.S. side to respect China's judicial sovereignty and stop bothering China on some isolated cases," the Xinhua news agency reported at the time.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Lin Jing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.