03/13/2006, 00.00
CHINA

Arrested: blind activist who uncovered Shandong abortions

Chen Guangcheng, a blind man, has lobbied for people with disabilities for years. After his denunciation, the Chinese Family Planning Agency was forced to admit to "forced abortions and sterilizations, against citizens' rights."

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese human rights activist, was arrested on Saturday 11 March, after months of being under house arrest for denouncing a violent birth control campaign in Shandong. The blind man has been confined to his home since August and he was arrested with two of his cousins.

The news was spread by his wife, Yuan Weijing: "Chen Guangyu [one cousin] went out shopping when he encountered several police officers who beat him with wooden sticks before arresting him." After the attack, the activist and his wife went to the police station to find out who was responsible for the beating, when he was detained.

The activist is famous throughout the country for his work for people with disabilities and his campaign against the government family planning policy. He helped Washington Post reporters to dig up proof of a campaign of forced abortions against women in Linyi, Shandong.

Thanks to his material, the American newspaper was able to prove that the authorities of this central-eastern province had forcibly sterilized more than 7,000 women in the preceding year. After the denunciation, the Chinese Family Planning Agency was forced to admit, on 19 September last, that some government representatives "had carried out forced abortions and sterilizations against citizens' legal rights."

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