HONG KONG--The wife of a blind rights activist currently serving a four-year jail term after blowing the whistle on family planning abuses in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong has called for his release on medical parole.
Chen Guangcheng, 37, has been suffering from diarrhea for several months now, according to his wife, Yuan Weijing.
"Our lawyer wrote to the prison asking for a medical assessment and for permission to seek medical treatment overseas," said Yuan.
"But they never replied, although they didn't refuse either. There was simply no response."
She said Chen had been denied family visits during the traditional Lunar New Year holiday this week in China.
Beatings for disobedience
"They wouldn't let me visit him, and I got very upset and started crying," Yuan said.
"I said that they had no idea what I was going through, and how hard it was to get by just on the strength of knowing that today I would see him, and not only did they not help me, but they seemed to be hindering me, even though they know that he is sick."
Yuan has previously said Chen suffered beatings while in the Linyi municipal prison, in June 2007, for "being disobedient" in launching an appeal against his conviction to a higher court.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer, was detained repeatedly, beaten and kept under surveillance after he helped local people take legal action against the Linyi municipal government in cases of alleged forced abortion.
He was sentenced to four years and three months' imprisonment for "damaging public property and obstructing traffic" in August, 2006.
Chen Guangcheng's work exposed a culture of secrecy and impunity among Chinese officials about the enforcement of China's population control policy.
Local officials have admitted to taking draconian measures when they had a tough time meeting population targets imposed by Beijing.
Original reporting in Cantonese by Grace Kei Lai-see, and in Mandarin by Xin Yu and Fang Yuan. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie.