Website For Activist's Release

Rights campaigners raise public awareness of Chinese blind activist's case.

2010-11-26
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Chen-Guangcheng-305.jpg Blind activist Chen Guangcheng in an undated photo.
Gongmin Weiquan Wang (www.gmwq.org)

A website set up by Chinese rights campaigners for blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng is calling for supplies and postcards of support to be sent to his home in the eastern province of Shandong.

The website calls on the public to send small toys, coloring books, or fresh flowers to his home in Yinan county or postcards with greetings to Chen's family and those standing guard at his home.

Much of the mail for Chen, who is under house arrest, and his wife, Yuan Weijing, is intercepted by security guards, it said.

Other campaign tactics include inviting Chen and his family to visit their hometowns, or to interview influential people on their views on his case as well as posting video or audio online.

"Their entire family is under house arrest, and their situation has shown no improvement," said Zeng Jinyan, wife of imprisoned rights activist Hu Jia, who was herself confined to the couple's Beijing home for months.

"When their friends go to visit them, they aren't allowed to see them, and they don't know how best to help them," said Zeng, one of the founders of the website.

"We are hoping to boost public awareness of Chen Guangcheng's situation through these sorts of activities," she said.

Vulnerable people

Chen, 38, is already well-known in China's civil rights community, which is frequently exposed to detention, prison sentences, and official violence and harassment as activists struggle to enforce the rights of the country's most vulnerable people.

Zeng appealed for more people to get involved, but only in a campaign of peaceful action.

"Hatred will only breed more hatred," she said. "Right now, there's enough anger. We need some goodwill to dissolve it."

Many websites belonging to rights activists are being attacked online amid a country-wide crackdown on activism in the wake of the 2010 Nobel peace prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo.

Sichuan-based activist Liu Feiyue, who helps to run the China Rights Observer website, said the site was the latest to be disabled by hackers.

"There are still technological issues with the website that haven't been fixed yet," Liu said.

"But this is a sensitive time, with the forthcoming prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo, and it's not that surprising that the website hasn't been able to launch properly at this time."

While Chen was released from prison on Sept. 9, he and his wife are not allowed to leave their home, and no one—not even Chen’s mother—has been allowed to visit the couple since early October.

Martial law

Friends and relatives have described measures similar to martial law imposed by the authorities in Chen’s home village of Dongshigu.

Chen was jailed for four years and three months for "damaging public property and obstructing traffic," a sentence handed down by the Linyi municipal court in August 2006.

Chen, who had exposed abuses like forced abortions and sterilizations by local family planning officials under China's "one-child" population control policy, served the full term in spite of repeated requests for medical parole.

Chinese law stipulates that anyone serving a prison sentence must be released when they have served their time.

The United States said this month it was "concerned" by reports of Chen's house arrest.

Reported by Ding Xiao for Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service and by Lin Jing for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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