Report by JENIFERLAMUG
The whereabouts of Chinese lawyer dissident Chen Guangcheng is now unclear after escaping from a house arrest. Some media suggest that Mr. Chen is now taking refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing but He Peirong, another activist based in China has told reporters that she let him stay in a safe place outside Shandong.
On April 22, Chen, who is also known as the “barefoot lawyer” reportedly escaped from his home in Dongshigu town, Shandong province and released a video addressed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. In the video that was posted online by Boxun a Chinese dissident news website based in the United States, Chen is asking Wen to investigate and prosecute local officials who abused him and his family members during more than 18 months of house arrest; to ensure the safety of his family; and to punish corrupt officials according to the law.
The 41-year old activist became prominent for divulging the truth under China’s one-child policy. About 7,000 women in Shandong province were forced by local officials to undergo abortion or sterilisation. With this expose’, the blind activist was jailed in 2006 for damaging property and disrupting traffic in a protest. After his release in 2010, he was placed under house arrest with his wife, mother and daughter, being heavily guarded by local authorities, reports CNN.
Peirong, who spoke with CNN and other media organizations today admitted that she is also putting herself at risk for helping Chen.
According to the BBC, local authorities broke into Chen’s home, when they discovered his disappearance. Reportedly, they assaulted Chen’s brother and nephew. The police even tried to arrest them.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer is blind since childhood due to an illness. His plight had drawn international criticisms especially from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and she is set to visit Beijing next month to raise the case.
More updates to follow.