HONG KONG—A blind social activist who blew the whistle on official abuses under China's one-child policy in the eastern province of Shandong was beaten by a group of men led by local officials Monday when he tried to leave his house to greet visitors.
"It was a little after 1:00 p.m.[Oct. 24]. Two friends—one of them, Liang Xiaoyan, is a classmate of Chen's wife—went to Chen Guangcheng's house saying they would like to see Chen's child," a Dongshigu villager surnamed Han told RFA Mandarin service reporter Ding Xiao.
"They were not allowed to go in. The child was taken outside to meet the visitors. Chen Guangcheng tried to take the opportunity to come out of his house. And so they beat him," the villager said.
Chen Guangcheng's cousin, Chen Guangli, who witnessed the beating, confirmed Han's story.
"The authorities prevented the visitors from entering the house. Guangcheng heard the commotion and tried to come to the door," the cousin said.
"When he opened the front door of the house, eight or nine people tried to stop him. He tried to force his way out. So all eight or nine people started beating and kicking him. He fell to the ground five or six times. He is a blind man. He could not see them."
A total of 20 people were guarding Chen's house in three shifts, each shift led by two cadres, the villagers said. The two cadres leading the assault were the vice chief of Shuanghou township, Zhao Feng, and a cadre named Li Xiangan, they said.
"Li Xiangan is a local cadre," the cousin said. "He kicked Chen Guangcheng and hit Chen Guangcheng‚s temples with his fists. I was there. I cried out, 'Li Xiangan, what right do you have to hit him?' Li replied, 'Hit him hard! Break his legs! So he can include this in his lawsuit, too.'"
"After Li said this, the others started picking up sticks. My mother and I dragged Guangcheng inside. We were about two meters from the front door of his house. I don't think they came up with the idea of beating him. I think they had instructions from higher up."
Chen's family's request to send him to the hospital was denied, the cousin said.
"They would not allow him to be taken to the hospital. He was lying on the floor. I visited him again around 9:00 p.m. Monday. He was bleeding in the right temple area and he said he was hurting in the left eye and left temple area. He has not been given any medical attention. His fingers are still hurting so badly that he can't bend them."
The visitor, Liang Xiaoyan, and another friend were watching from 20 or 30 meters away as Chen was being beaten, the cousin said, adding, "I don't know where they are now and I am concerned."
Chen was beaten earlier this month and left bleeding at the roadside after three out-of-town lawyers arrived in Dongshigu to try to mediate between him and local government officials. Unidentified thugs also set upon the lawyers, residents and lawyers said.
He was dragged back to his home in September by officials from Yinan county, which administers Dongshigu, from a hiding place in Beijing.
Chen is becoming widely known for exposing violence against women by officials in Linyi city and Yinan county, Shandong, in pursuit of family planning targets under China's one-child policy.
His writings, which reported widespread forced abortions and sterilizations, were widely distributed on the Internet and read by many in China.
In an interview earlier this year, a township-level family planning official from Linyi admitted that "illegal actions" had occurred in pursuit of draconian population targets.
"If people have more than the allotted number of children, it affects the overall family planning results. Here in Shandong, each level of government has responsibility for overseeing the level below it...From the city level upwards, you start getting fines for exceeding the target," the official said.
He said pressures on village officials exerted by the system of fines and quotas had led to beatings in the past, but denied that violence was sanctioned at every level of the family planning bureaucracy.
Chen has been threatened with spying charges for his role in highlighting abuses in the region, but no formal charges have been brought against him.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han and edited by Luisetta Mudie.