Five human rights activists and netizens were attacked by presumed police auxiliaries on the night of 18 September while trying to visit human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and his family, who have been under house arrest in Dongshigu, a village in the eastern province of Shandong, for more than a year.
Two of the women in the group, Liu and Miao, were beaten, detained and then dumped in the middle of a field several dozen kilometres from Dongshigu. Miao wrote on Twitter: “They covered our heads with bags and threw us out (separately) from the car.” Liu said one of their assailants tried to throttle her with her coat.
Three French journalists were forcibly turned back when they tried to visit Chen on 15 February.
The conditions in which Chen and his family are being held have worsened since the start of the year and the wave of unrest in the Arab world. The family’s computers, cameras, video cameras and books have been confiscated. The authorities had originally envisaged letting their six-year-old daughter Chen Kesi start school on 1 September but, in the end, her right to education has been denied.
Three French journalists physically attacked for trying to approach human rights lawyer
16 February 2011
Several foreign journalists have reported being forcibly turned back by thugs in the past few days when trying to approach the home of Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught human rights lawyer who is under house arrest in Dongshigu, a village in the eastern province of Shandong.
Three French journalists – Brice Pedroletti of Le Monde, Stéphane Lagarde of Radio France Internationale and Ursula Gauthier of Le Nouvel Observateur – said they tried to visit Chen yesterday but were violently pushed away by “a dozen well-built men” who identified themselves as members of the village’s “law and order brigade.” The men tried to confiscate and break some of the journalists’ equipment.
On 14 February, two New York Times journalists trying to visit Chen were reportedly forced to get out their vehicle and had some of their equipment broken.
Reporters Without Borders condemns these acts of violence against journalists and the forced isolation in which the authorities have been keeping Chen since his release from prison on 9 September 2010. The government must put an immediate stop to this illegal persecution of Chen, his relatives and supporters, the press freedom organization said.
Arrested on 21 June 2006 for investigating allegations of forced abortions and sterilization, Chen was sentenced in August of the same year to four years and three months in prison. After serving the entire jail term and being mistreated while in prison, he was placed under house arrest on his release.
He and his wife were beaten last week for secretly making a video, posted online on 9 February, about the way they are being kept under constant surveillance.
Human rights lawyer beaten by police over secret video of his house arrest
A famous self-taught human rights lawyer and free speech activist, Chen Guangcheng, has reportedly been badly beaten by police for circulating a secretly-recorded video showing how he is being held under house arrest in his small farm in the eastern province of Shandong.
He is said to be confined to his bed as a result of the injuries received in the beating but has not been able to receive any medical treatment. His wife, Yuan Weijing, was also beaten.
“We are shocked by this use of violence by the police and we urge the authorities to provide Chen with the necessary medical care and to refrain from any further violence against him and his family,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also call for their immediate release and the release of all other freedom of expression activists held illegally under house arrest.”
The one hour video was the first word from Chen since he was officially released from prison on 9 September 2010 on completing a four-year jail sentence. Posted online on 9 February by China Aid Association, a US-based human rights group, the video shows what Chen calls the “thuggish methods” used to monitor him and his family in their farm-house.
Reporters Without Borders hails this courageous video and the evidence it provides of the illegal methods used by the Chinese authorities to deprive human rights activists of their freedom after they have served their jail sentences. It proves that often they are still not free when they leave prison.
Chen’s wife describes the voyeurism of the guards, who go so far as to set up step ladders in order to spy on them. Video cameras have been installed all over the village and it is impossible to communicate by mobile phone. Chen says the police dissuade neighbours from visiting him, calling him a “traitor and counterrevolutionary.” Any contact with the outside world is expressly forbidden.
In a long monologue delivered directly to the camera, Chen says: “I have come out of a small jail and walked into a bigger jail.” He appeals for international support, says it is important that the video should be circulated and criticizes the Chinese government’s illegal actions.
“Why are they afraid of my talking to the outside world?” he asks. “Because they know full well that they are wrong. They know that what they are doing is illegal.” He expresses his support for fellow-human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been missing since April 2010, and for jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. His wife goes on to describe the humiliations to which they are constantly subjected.
This video is a disturbing and courageous appeal, and tears a hole in the Chinese government’s lies, offering proof of the appalling treatment being inflicted on Chen and his family. It also offers an idea of the deplorable conditions and isolation in which many human rights activists are being held. They include Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 8 October also officially she is free.