Guards Return to Chen's Village

Chinese authorities step up surveillance in the village where blind dissident Chen Guangcheng was held under house arrest.

2012.08.24
china-linyi-dongshigu-305 Plainclothes security monitor the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong where Chen Guangcheng was held under house arrest, April 28, 2012.
AFP

Authorities have reimposed strict security measures in the home village of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng after removing them in the wake of the activist's daring escape from house arrest and subsequent move to the U.S., Chen's brother said on Friday.

"They have just announced the list of names for the security squad," Chen Guangfu said by telephone from his home in Dongshigu village in the eastern province of Shandong, where the activist lived under 19 months of house arrest until his escape in April.

"There are six or seven people assigned to our village, all of them local residents," Chen Guangfu said.

"They are likely to be doing the same as the guards did before, like spying on strangers and not allowing local people to talk to them."

He said the authorities had also stepped up pressure on the brothers' elderly parents in recent days and had detained relatives of his sister-in-law.

"They wanted to stop my parents from doing my job, and prevent them from getting in touch with the outside world," he said. "They put pressure on them, and they put pressure on me."

Chen Guangcheng, now living in New York with his family, has said that he and his family experienced illegal detention and brutal beatings while under house arrest in Dongshigu and that Beijing had promised him it would sack officials responsible for the mistreatment.

Chen Guangcheng speaks to reporters in Washington, Aug. 1, 2012. Credit: RFA.
Chen Guangcheng speaks to reporters in Washington, Aug. 1, 2012. Credit: RFA.
RFA

Dissident's nephew

Chen Guangfu's son, Chen Kegui, faces "intentional homicide" charges for his role in defending his family from an allegedly brutal attack in the aftermath of his uncle's escape, although a trial date has yet to be fixed in a case which has been shrouded in secrecy.

Shandong-based rights lawyer Liu Weiguo said Chen Kegui's case had not yet been sent to the state prosecutor's office, in a sign that police were still trying to gather evidence for the charges.

"The investigation period should normally be no longer than three months, so it has already passed," Liu said. "This is definitely against the law."

"After three months are up, they should implement control measures such as bail, or house arrest, or they should bring formal charges," he said. "If the police act illegally during the investigation period, then the ... [prosecution service] has a duty of oversight, and should deal with it."

Chen Kegui has been denied access to a lawyer appointed by his wife, Liu Fang, who is now in hiding.

Chen Guangfu said Liu Fang's mother and brother had also recently been detained.

"They were asking them Liu Fang's whereabouts, and they took down the phone numbers and addresses of all of her relatives," he said.

Diplomatic row

Chen Guangcheng's daring escape from his closely guarded home and subsequent flight to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he sought refuge for nearly a week, came just ahead of annual strategic dialogues between U.S. and Chinese officials, prompting a diplomatic crisis and frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The diplomatic crisis was defused in May after Chen was allowed to fly to New York, where he is now a special student in law at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of New York University.

He accused Beijing last month of failing to honor its pledge to investigate abuses that he and his family were subjected to in China, as he met with top U.S. lawmakers in Washington.

Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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