30th April, 2012
A blind Chinese human rights lawyer is believed to be safe and under the protection of US authorities following his daring escape from house arrest.
ASSIST News has learned from ChinaAid, citing a source close to the Chen Guangcheng situation that Chen is under US protection and high level talks are currently under way between US and Chinese officials regarding Chen's status.
"This is a pivotal moment for US human rights diplomacy,” said Bob Fu, ChinaAid President.
"Because of Chen's wide popularity, the Obama Administration must stand firmly with him or risk losing credibility as a defender of freedom and the rule of law. If there is a reason why Chinese dissidents revere the US, it is for a moment like this," he said.
ChinaAid hopes the Administration will honor Chen's wishes, ensure his safety, and make sure that Chen's family does not suffer reprisals. The group says Chen's case should be handled like professor Fang Lizhi and not become another Wang Lijun.
The current situation surrounding Chen follows his daring escape earlier this week from house arrest under severe restrictions.
Chen Guangcheng escaped from his home where he had been held under harsh and violent house arrest conditions since his September, 2010, release from prison, and is said to be 100 per cent safe in Beijing, ChinaAid learned on Friday.
Police were reported to have taken into custody Chen's older brother and Nephew, Chen Guangfu and Chen Kegui, repectively. The father and son were taken from their home early Friday morning. Chen Kegui is said to have stabbed some governmentd officials who broken into his home early in the morning by climbing over the back wall an Chen, mistaking thm for burglars, reportedly attacked them.
Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer who has been blind since childhood, has been under attack by Chinese authorities since 2005 when he began to expose human rights abuses related to China’s one child policy.
Chen was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment for “intentionally damaging property” and “gathering crowds to disturb transport order.”
Chen, who is known as the “barefoot lawyer,” has been an outspoken proponent of human rights through his legal work. Lawyers who worked to defend him during his trial in 2005 and 2006 were regularly beaten and intimidated.
ChinaAid's founder and president Bob Fu was in touch with Chen's friends and family and was told by a source who brought Chen to Beijing that he is not in any danger and is "100 per cent safe." There is speculation that Chen is in the US Embassy in Beijing.
ChinaAid was asked on Friday to convey to the outside world Chen's intention to "fight to the end for the freedom of my family inside China. I want to live a normal life as a Chinese citizen with my family."
ChinaAid has briefed the US State Department and congressional and White House officials about Chen’s situation, and has also worked with major wire services, newspapers and radio -- including ASSIST News -- to get out Chen’s story.
MICHAEL IRELAND, Assist News Service