Blind Chinese activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who is now studying in the U.S., said on Tuesday that his nephew has been subjected to “torture,” including sleep and food deprivation, while under detention.
Chen Guangcheng said that his brother, Chen Guangfu, had met with his son in detention in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong recently and learned that he had suffered physical abuse from authorities.
Chen Kegui has been serving a 39-month jail term since November after being convicted for injuring officials who he said entered his home and attacked him and his family after his uncle’s daring escape from house arrest in Yinan county's Dongshigu village.
“On Feb. 28, my elder brother went to visit my nephew Chen Kegui in the detention center and, for the first time, Chen Kegui told his dad with great fear that he had been tortured,” Chen Guangcheng said at a human rights forum in Washington.
“The reason he didn’t mention the torture the previous time [my brother] visited was because he didn’t quite understand the definition of torture,” he said.
“To him, the sleep deprivation and food deprivation did not constitute torture.”
Chen Guangcheng said his nephew had lost more than 22 pounds (10 kilograms) while in detention.
He said that China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party’s secretary of the local public security bureau had also threatened Chen Kegui that if he were to try to appeal his case, his prison term would be extended to a “life sentence.”
“They also threaten the lives of his parents and his children. On a daily basis in the detention center he is reminded of those threats,” Chen said.
“He has given up hope completely on the justice system in China.”
Shrouded in secrecy
Chen Kegui's case has been shrouded in secrecy since Chen Guangcheng's arrival in the U.S. in May last year, with many lawyers reporting official harassment after they tried to advise or represent him.
In October, a court in Yinan county refused a counter lawsuit by his father Chen Guangfu aimed at making public the details of the attack on the family home by local officials.
The raid on the family came when local officials—who had hired hundreds of local people to keep watch on Chen Guangcheng and his family—discovered the blind activist was nowhere to be seen, following his nighttime, solo escape in April from more than 18 months of house arrest.
In an interview in August, Chen Guangfu said police and officials "illegally burst into my house on the night of April 26 and ruthlessly beat up me, my son Kegui, and Kegui’s wife, who was wounded by the attackers." He said the attackers were shouting to each other to beat his son to death, so his son picked up a kitchen knife in self-defense, injuring Zhang Jian, the head of Shuanghou township, and two other attackers.
Chen Guangcheng, now a visiting law student in New York, says that his nephew is being held "hostage" by the authorities to ensure his good behavior while overseas.
He has accused Beijing of failing to honor its pledge to investigate abuses that he and his family were subjected to in China. 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 sack officials responsible for the mistreatment.
Last month, authorities in Shandong refused to issue passports to Chen’s mother and brother for them to visit him in the U.S.
Reported by Joshua Lipes.