Blind Activist, Wife Beaten

Rights groups call the action "brutal" amid concerns over the condition of the couple.

chen_guangcheng-305.jpg Screen grab of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng from the video.

Local authorities in China have severely beaten a blind activist and his wife, apparently in retaliation for the couple’s release of a video detailing the harsh conditions of their life under house arrest, according to Chinese rights groups.

Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing, "were beaten so severely that they are not able to move from their bed, and they were denied the right to go to the hospital for medical care,” the Texas-based China Aid Association said in a statement late Thursday,

“By taking further brutal action against this family, the Chinese government has not only shown total contempt for the rule of law in China, but also its determination to continue this absolute wrong path toward more disregard of its own citizens’ basic rights and freedom,” Bob Fu, president of China Aid, added.

Chen, 38, a self-taught lawyer who has persistently campaigned for women's rights issues, was confined to his home since his release at the end of a jail term of four years and three months for “damaging public property and obstructing traffic” handed down by the Linyi municipal court in August 2006.

Chen had exposed abuses like forced abortions and sterilizations by local family planning officials under China’s “One Child” population-control policy. He had served the full jail term in spite of repeated requests for medical parole.

The attack on the couple was carried out by local police and state security officers from Linyi city and Shuanghou town in China’s eastern province of Shandong, the Hong Kong-based rights group China Human Rights Defenders quoted a “reliable source” as saying, according to media reports.

Calls seeking comment from the Shuanghou town police station on Friday were answered by a message saying the number was out of service.

Brother ‘taken away’

Attempts by Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, to determine Chen’s condition on Friday were turned back by local officials, according to the older brother’s wife.

“They would not let him. He was taken away to the township … I don’t know if he’s okay,” she said in an interview with RFA.

Chen Guangfu was also detained the day before by the township chief, who questioned him closely about the video’s release.

“They interrogated him for 10 hours, mostly about how the video got out,” said rights activist Teng Biao, who spoke with Chen Guangfu following his detention Thursday.

“Chen Guangfu said he didn’t know,” Teng said.

Zhai Minglei, a family friend who spoke with both Chen Guangfu and his wife, said that authorities have denied that Chen Guangcheng was beaten.

“If what the government says is true—that Guangcheng was not beaten—then why wouldn’t it let Guangfu see Guangcheng in order to confirm their story?  If we have to rely on hearsay, we cannot know for sure.”

“We hope the government will let Guangcheng make a public appearance, or at least allow his brother to visit him,” Zhai said.

“There have been incidents in the past when Chen Guangcheng and his wife were beaten. This is why we are worried.”

Reported by Ding Xiao for RFA’s  Mandarin service. Translated by Jennifer Chou. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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