04/26/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Persecution of Chen Guangcheng’s family "getting worse"

A year after the escape of the blind dissident, known for his battles against forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong, the communist authorities continue to persecute his family with arrests and psychological pressures. Reggie Littlejohn: "They are trying to silence one of the most authoritative voices in the battle for human rights in China."

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chen Guangcheng flight into exile has unleashed a wave of persecution against his family. A year after the blind dissident's daring escape from house arrest, in fact, the Beijing government continues to keep pressure on his family: his nephew Chen Kegui is in prison, while the family home is subjected to constant "anonymous" attacks and provocations including dead animals in the garden and stones thrown at the windows.


Known for his battles against forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong Province, Chen Guangcheng has become an emblem of the struggle for human rights in China. Blind since birth, he spent four years in prison for denouncing abuses by the authorities responsible for implementing the one-child law in the country.

After escaping house arrest, on 22 April 2012, after a reckless trip to Beijing, Chen sought refuge in the American Embassy. Following threats of reprisals against his family, he agreed to leave the embassy and be hospitalized and have his foot treated, injured during the escape. Joined by his wife and his two sons, he learned of threats and asked to be able to at least seek exile in the U.S..

The solution was found by the Chinese government: Chen - declared a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - may apply to go abroad to study "like all Chinese citizens." The agreement reached between Washington and Beijing, says the same dissident, also included an end to the persecution of family members still living in the village of Dongshigu in Shandong. However, this clause was not respected.

Chen Guangfu, brother of the activist, said: " They have been harassing us ever since the night of the 18th [April]. 'Unknown' people close to the government have hanged dead chickens and ducks in our backyard, and have stuck defamatory posters on our house with threats against us and against Chen . Then on the night of April 21, they threw stones, smashing the windows. On April 22, our mother went out to go to the market and saw leaflets on the street against us. "

There have also been other threats against his wife Ren Zongju and against some grandchildren. One of them, Chen Kegui, was sentenced to 39 months in prison for threatening - during his uncle's escape - a Communist official: in fact the young man was defending his home from an unidentified stranger.

In the posters, the two brothers are called "traitors of the Han people. They say that we have links with 'foreign devils' and the separatist forces in Taiwan, that we are children of the United States and traitors to our country. I think it is an organized campaign to intimidate us not to talk about some details of this case. But it is affecting us on a psychological and economic level. "

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women's rights Without Frontiers, stated, "We condemn the persecution of the relatives of Chen Guangcheng by Chinese Communist thugs.  This harassment is clearly designed to silence him as one of the leading voices in the world to expose the brutality of this regime.  The Chinese government will even stoop to detain without food or water a 10-year-old child in an attempt to silence her activist father, as in the case of Zhang Anni, earlier this month.  We urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the harassment of Chen Guangcheng's relatives in Dongshigu Village.  We call upon President Obama and Secretary Kerry to urgently intervene on behalf of Chen Guangcheng's relatives in China."

 

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