HONG KONG, Dec. 7, 2006—A leading rights activist from the eastern Chinese province of Shandong says a law enforcement official tried to arrange for him to be tortured at his detention center where he was awaiting trial, but that his jailers flatly refused to do it.
Chen Guangcheng, who was sentenced to four years and three months' imprisonment in August after he blew the whistle on forced abortions and other abuses by family planning officials in his home county of Yinan, spoke extensively of his experience behind bars during an interview with his lawyer, broadcast exclusively by RFA's Mandarin service Thursday.
He told lawyer Li Jingsong: "In late July, a certain individual – either from public security or the judicial branch – came to the detention center and ordered that I be tortured."
In late July, a certain individual – either from public security or the judicial branch – came to the detention center and ordered that I be tortured
"His order was flatly rejected by detention center officials. The force of justice will prevail," Chen said, adding that he had met other officials who were privately sympathetic to his case, which was overturned on appeal to the Linyi Municipal Intermediate People's Court in late October.
Chen said he was delighted that his case had been sent back to the lower court for retrial.
"On Aug. 28, presiding judge Wang Jun [from the Yinan district level court] paid me a visit. The first thing he said to me was, 'Chen Guangcheng, you should not regard everyone as bad. Someday the truth about your case will be known to the whole world.'"
"And so I asked him why he did what he did if he was clear about where the truth of the matter lay. He said it was because the communists were still in power," Chen said, adding that Wang had admitted that the initial verdict against him had been due to 'extrajudicial factors'.
"I told him that what motivated us to join the rights campaign was our confidence in democracy, the rule of law, and government policy. But the fact that they feel they can resort to any tactics – including depriving you of the right to defend yourself and to appeal a verdict – it just shows that they have a much darker view of the system. We have a fundamental faith in the system. We ask the government to fulfill its promise to the people," Chen said.
Chen's groundbreaking work as a self-trained legal advocate on behalf of women suffering forced abortions and other abuses at the hands of Yinan county family planning officials has earned him praise among socially aware netizens in China.
But it has also drawn him months of house arrest, surveillance, beatings, and harassment by local officials and the unidentified men they hire as heavies.
On Nov. 30, the Yinan county court upheld its original verdict and sentence against Chen.
Chen told the outside world from his detention cell: " I am still engaged in the rights campaign. Don't worry about me. Think of it as if I have embarked on a long journey. My resolve has not been shaken. I will never give up."
Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie, and edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.