10/06/2005, 00.00
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Lawyers beaten up for visiting activist

Two Beijing lawyers are escorted out Shandong province and taken back to Beijing before they can talk to Chen Gauncheng, a well-known anti-government and anti-family planning activist.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – A Beijing law lecturer and a lawyer, who wanted to pay a social call to a swell-known activist in Linyi (Shandong province), were escorted back to the capital by the police after receiving a beating.

Xu Zhiyong, 32, from the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and Li Fangping, 30, a lawyer in a private practice, said the police action was due to their attempt to visit Chen Guangcheng, an opponent of the government's family planning policies whom the authorities 'abducted' a month ago and placed under house arrest.

"It was a government-planned action, but the barbarous act will not intimidate us," Mr Xu said.

Mr Li, who suffered bruises to his neck and shoulders, said the attack was aimed "to sever Mr Chen from all outside communications. But if we are scared off, these crimes will continue".

On Tuesday morning, the two men arrived outside Mr Chen's home but were denied access. They were able though to exchange a few words with Mr Chen before they were chased away.

Local county officials then invited them to lunch. The two lawyers turned down the invitation but told the officials that Mr Chen would "talk less" about local abuses if he was released, but the latter refused to listen.

Later, when they were on the way back to Mr Chen's home, they were attacked by up to 30 thugs, kicked and pushed into a gutter before police arrived and to take them—but not the attackers—to a police station, where 'they' were accused of "attacking people".

Next day they were interrogated and escorted back to Beijing by three county policemen.

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