Public Attention Forced Authorities to Improve Prison Conditions
We are very pleased to tell you that Chen Guangcheng is alive! As you may remember we received reports that in early October that Chen had died under the brutal regimen euphemistically called “soft detention” a form of house arrest which includes periodic torture sessions and denies the prisoner sufficient food or medical attention.
Chen’s health has never recovered from the torture and denial of medical treatment he received in prison. Beating a man nearly to death is a tricky business, particularly when the man is already in poor health. When we received the report our last confirmation that Chen was alive on July 28. As this was just before he and his wife received another visit from the local Communist officials and their bullyboys we feared the worst.
Fortunately, we have now received confirmation that Chen is alive and that his conditions have improved somewhat, mainly due to the public attention both in the West and in China, itself. Some of his relatives are being permitted to bring him food and medicine and we pray that his health will improve.
We encourage you to read the press release from friends at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and pray particularly for the Congressional Hearings and press events on Chen which will take place later this week. Remember that despite all our efforts it will take a genuine work of God to free Chen Guangcheng. We pray that work comes soon.
LINYI, CHINA. A reliable source inside China told Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng is alive. An unconfirmed report went out in early October that Chen had died under house arrest.
According to this source, who requested anonymity, “Now his mother is allowed to go outside to buy food although escorted by three guards, and his health also is getting better.”
The source attributed the improved treatment of Chen to the fact that “Chen’s situation was exposed and got huge public attention.” One campaign that brought considerable visibility to Chen’s plight was the flow of concerned citizens attempting to visit him for his fortieth birthday on November 12. Many of these citizens were beaten and detained.
In addition, the “Chen Sunglasses Freedom” campaigns inside and outside of China have raised the visibility of his case. These campaigns post photos of people wearing sunglasses in support of Chen. The source stated, “I think it’s great. I think it’s very helpful for people all over the world to show they care about Chen through the Sunglasses campaigns. I think it’s very important to show support inside and outside the country – we can work together.” These campaigns are spearheaded by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and Dark Glasses Portrait.
The source also commended the video, “Free Chen Guangcheng,” saying that watching this video has inspired many to take action. “People inside China weep when they watch it,” she said.
The source continued, “Chen’s situation has indeed improved. I have just sent him some medicine and covered the expenses for his family in the market . . . Some relatives can visit his mother and deliver some items under surveillance.”
The source cautioned, however, that the slightly improved condition of Chen’s house arrest is not a reason to relax the campaign to free him. Most relatives of Chen and his wife are not allowed to visit, including their son and his wife’s parents. Moreover, the fact that Chen is now allowed food and medicine “is still far away from our basic request, that is, Chen should be freed right away, according to China’s own law.”
According to the source, the persecution of Chen supporters continues. An activist who announced that she would wear sunglasses in Linyi’s central square this weekend was detained on Thursday. Also Thursday, another activist from Yantai and a writer from Beijing, were arrested in Shandong attempting to distribute plastic bags and balloons bearing Chen’s image, in honor of International Day of Person’s with Disabilities, celebrated December 3.
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated, “We are thrilled and relieved that Chen is alive and his health is improving. This improved treatment demonstrates the power of the collaborative effort inside and outside China to raise the visibility of his case. We greatly admire the brave citizens inside China, who are risking their safety to stand up for Chen.”
Littlejohn added, “We commend the courageous and persistent efforts of Rep. Chris Smith to visit Chen and urge the Chinese government to grant him a visa. We also urge U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, to visit Chen. We demand the immediate, unqualified release of Chen Guangcheng and his family. Chen’s ongoing house arrest is illegal and his medical condition remains weak.”
Littlejohn will testify regarding Chen’s case before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China at a hearing to be held on Tuesday, December 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., location TBA. On Wednesday, December 7, she will appear on Voice of America China Branch’s program, “Issues and Opinions,” broadcast throughout China at 9:00 a.m. EST.
Chen’s investigation exposed the fact that there were 130,000 forced abortions and sterilizations under China’s One Child Policy, in Linyi County in 2005. He was jailed for four years and three months, during which time he was tortured and denied medical treatment. He and his family remain under house arrest.
Join the Chen Sunglasses Freedom Campaign.
Watch the video, “Free Chen Guangcheng”
Sign the Free Chen petition here.