Rome (AsiaNews) - In a video appeal, fugitive blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to protect his family, as he pointed the finger at local officials who, he said, abused him and his family when he was under house arrest.
"Even though I am now free, I am still concerned because my family-my mother, my wife, my child-are still in their hands," he said on the video posted on youtube.
"They have hurt them for a long time," he added, "and they could enact crazed revenge on them because of my departure. This revenge could be completely unrestrained."
Until his escape, Chen was under house arrest since September 2010 at his home near Linyi after he was released from a four-year jail sentence for campaigning on behalf of women forced by Shandong authorities to have abortions or undergo sterilisation.
News about his escape was made public today. In dissident circles, people are saying that he is in a "safe location in Beijing" with rumours claiming that he is at the US Embassy in Beijing.
What is certain is that the lives of his family are now at risk. Police and thugs have visited his brother's family last night and his nephew Chen was arrested.
He Peirong, one of Chen's supporters who helped transport him to his current safe location, was also arrested this morning at her home in the eastern city of Nanjing.
A few months ago, after Chen posted another video showing his confined life, some men barged into his home, beat his wife and daughter causing bleeding, telling them not to go to the hospital for treatment.
In today's video, Chen appealed to Wen Jiabao to punish severely local police and officials for making his life and that of his family a living hell.
"This situation is really too inhuman, and it harms the image of the (Communist) Party," he said, citing several examples of mistreatment.
In particular, Chen singled out Zhang Jian, deputy party chief of Shuanghou township, which includes Chen's village within its jurisdiction.
This official "repeatedly made it known that we don't need to worry about the law, we don't need to worry about regulations, we don't need any legal procedures," Chen explained.
Hence, "I am very worried" and "ask netizens to keep watch" and "our government to guarantee my family's safety."