Officials in the Shandong hometown of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, which is still under tight security a month after he fled house arrest there, are branding the activist a traitor, his brother said Tuesday.
Chen Guangfu, who returned to Dongshigu village Saturday after his own escape from tight security, said that officials have told local people that Chen Guangcheng's study trip to the U.S. is an act of treason against the people and the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
"They say he is a criminal, against the people, against the Party, against lots of things," Chen told RFA's Cantonese service.
Chen Guangcheng, who arrived in the U.S. last week after a month-long ordeal that sparked a diplomatic row between Beijing and Washington, has repeatedly called on central authorities to investigate the treatment of his family under illegal detention.
But Chen Guangfu said that since returning to the village he has found scant evidence of any change in the attitude of the local authorities toward his son, Chen Kegui, who is facing trial for the "intentional homicide" of an official in the wake of his uncle's flight from the village.
"They are talking about Kegui's injuring of the official as if the officials were totally innocent and as if we are the criminals," said Chen, who had fled to Beijing in search of a lawyer to defend his son.
Chen Guangfu said local authorities had been telling local people that the young man had attacked an official without provocation, rather than in self-defense.
"Chen Kegui was under a ferocious attack from [officials], otherwise, he would never have picked up the chopping knife," Chen said.
"But the work team from the police station has been telling people here that the responsibility lies with Kegui."
He said continued attempts to get a lawyer into the Yinan county detention center to visit Chen Kegui have so far resulted in stonewalling from police, and that he has scant hopes of a fair trial for his son.
Chen Kegui's defense
Lawyers hired by the family to represent Chen Kegui say they have been prevented from meeting their client.
Citing Article 23 of China’s Legal Aid Regulations, Beijing-based lawyer Ding Xikui has argued that in the letter that he and Si Weijiang are Chen Kegui’s lawful attorneys, having been authorized by his wife, Liu Fang, to represent her husband, and that government-appointed legal aid lawyers should stop providing legal assistance to Chen Kegui.
"To judge from the fact that they won't allow the lawyer we hired to visit, they have no intention to see that justice is done," Chen said.
He said that Chen Guangcheng had been denied adequate legal representation at his own trial in the county several years earlier for "obstructing traffic."
"The lawyers they appointed only said a total of four words from start to finish," Chen said. "There was no dissenting opinion."
"I don't see the point in such lawyers," he added.
Meanwhile, Chen Guangcheng, whose dramatic escape following 19 months of house arrest alongside his wife and daughter sparked a diplomatic crisis this month, is scheduled to speak on Thursday to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York.
Chen Guangcheng and his mentor and fellow speaker, New York University law professor Jerome Cohen, first met when Chen came to the United States on a State Department program in 2003.
Cohen acted as an adviser to Chen Guangcheng during his six-day stay in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The dissident later said he left the embassy because of threats to his family, and opted to go to the U.S. as a visiting scholar, rather than seeking political asylum.
Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia, who recently spoke with Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing, said the couple had discussed their plans for their future.
"He is going to be there for at least a year, and there is a possibility that he will study for a degree as well," Hu said on Tuesday.
"The basic problem they are facing right now is their level of English and the computer skills they need to learn."
Hu said he had offered to enlist the help of experts in Chinese braille software to aid Chen Guangcheng's future studies.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.