See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Campaign to Free Blind Human Rights Activist

Since his release from prison on September 8, 2010, blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has been held under 24 hour home surveillance by security police in Shandong, a province in eastern China.

According to non-governmental organisation China Human Rights Defenders, upon the release of a video showing the illegal detention of Chen and his family produced by United States-based Christian group China Aid on February 9, 2011, Chen and his wife were badly beaten by police. The video can be found on Youtube:

Campaign for Freedom

Since September 2010, Chinese activists have been campaigning to free Chen Guangcheng and his family from house arrest.

On 30 September, 2010, a number of human rights activists staged a cultural T-shirt protest [zh] in front of the Shandong regional government office in Beijing.

Activists stage a 'free Guangcheng' t-shirt protest.

Activists stage a 'free Guangcheng' t-shirt protest.

Activists have also been trying to visit Chen's family since October 2010, resulting in the attack on one on October 1 2011 [zh] by security guards. The woman in question, @pearlher, is now urging other activists and netizens via Twitter to visit Chen's village:

千呼万唤,不如村头一站!现在开始接受报名去探访陈光诚。想去的话,DM偶您可能有空的时间。

Standing in front of the village is worth more than a thousand words. Please sign up with me to visit Chen Guangcheng. If you want to go, please direct message me the time you are available.

Visit to Chen's Village

Another activist, @chen_yunfei, went directly to the security police and demanded to visit Chen Guangcheng on November 30, 2010. He strategically told them that the purpose of this trip was to clear up the online rumors surrounding Chen's condition. Below is a record of their conversation:

我答:“我就是来找你们证实啊,如是假的,那就是诋毁党和政府形象!我们不能给反华敌对势力宣传的借口。同时我了解真相后也可以为此四处辟谣。”

“如网上说的是事实,我就想做二件事:第一,我想见见陈光诚先生,我想做他思想工作。我想知道他为什么这么顽固不化,与党和政府为敌呢?搞 得水火不容。我给他讲讲现在外面党和政府领导下的大好形势,讲讲前无古人后无来者的‘和谐’维稳盛世。并且劝他早日改过自新,争取早日回归社会,消除恶劣 影响。第二,无论陈光诚怎么坏,但孩子是无辜的,我想看看孩子,亲自给她点零花钱,买点书包、笔纸、玩具什么的。”

I answered: “I have come here to crosscheck the facts. If what has been said online is fake, it is defamatory to the [Chinese] government and the [Communist] party! We cannot let the anti-China force take advantage of this. I can clear up the rumors once I get hold of the truth.”

“If what has been said online is the truth, I want to do two things. First of all, I want to see Mr Chen Guangcheng and educate him. I want to know why he is so stubborn in insisting on turning himself into the enemy of the government and party. I want to share with him a rosy picture of the current ‘harmonious’ and prosperous era and persuade him to repent and return to society, so as to eliminate his negative impact. Secondly, even if Chen Guangcheng is really bad, his child is innocent. I want to see his child and give her some pocket money for exercise books, toys and whatever.”

Jail for a ‘Secret’ Crime

国保甲:“陈光诚你就不用见了。那里我们的群众基础好围得水泄不通,你想见也见不上。还告诉你那里群众不会给你讲理,去了造成后果我们也不负责的。 我们国保都不去,我都从来没见过他,也不想见他。”国保甲接下来的话更让我惊惶不安,“你跟他不同,他是‘汉奸’!他与国外勾结出卖国家利益。”

我惊叹道:“哇塞,出卖什么国家利益?”

国保甲:“这你就用不着知道,这是秘密。”接着又说:“他里通外国有很多联系,究竟多少联系,我们正在办理他的事,你最好不要掺和他的事,赶紧回家。”

Security Police A: “You can't meet with Chen Guangcheng. We have a very strong grassroots base there – even water can not leak in. You cannot see him. The people there will not reason with you and we shall not be responsible for the consequences if you insist on going. Even security police will not go there. I have never met him before and I don't want to see him.”

I felt unease when he said, “You are different from him. He is a ‘traitor’. He works with overseas powers to sell out our country”.

I exclaimed, “What did he exactly sell out?”

Security Police A answered: “You don't have to know. This is a secret.” He continued, “He has many contacts with overseas forces. Exactly how many? We are still investigating, you'd better stay away from this and go home.”

Village Jail

In December 2010, prominent blogger Zhai Minglei wrote at length about his encounter with Chen Guangcheng before his arrest in June 2006:

光诚采取关键行动前,我和他有一场严肃的对话,我劝他不要这么做,这样会坐牢,会连累家人。他轻轻地摇头:“我完全明白,他们威胁我不仅我要坐牢, 我的妻子也会被报复,连我的孩子都会陷入危险,无人理睬,无法上学的境地。”但是他说他已无法忍受村民的苦况,他要去做,即使牺牲了自身的一切。

他果然去坐牢了,可以称得上“义无反顾”。我对他说,“你去坐牢,好好休息,我们在外面劳作,你出来再加班补回来。”

四年来,我很惭愧,做了点事,但成绩单很差。

在牢中,因为是盲人,他受尽了折磨,长年腹泄便血,得不到医治,到最后嗓子嘶哑,说不出话来。
四年后,2010年9月9日,光诚走出牢房。

可是他发现他不过从一个小牢房进入一个更大的牢房,而且陪他坐牢的亲人更多了。

I had some serious conversations with Guangcheng before he took action. I actually persuaded him not to do so as he would end up in jail and hurt his family. He shook his head and said, “I understand the situation completely. They have threatened that they would send me to prison and take revenge on my wife. Even my child would be hurt and could not attend school.” However, he said he could not bare the suffering of the villagers anymore and he had to take action, even if he would lose everything.

He ended up in jail eventually, unrepentant. I told him, “Please rest while you are in jail. We will keep on our work and you can work overtime to compensate later on.”

It lasted four years and I felt ashamed. We have done something, but nothing very remarkable. In the jail, he suffered a lot because he is blind. He suffered from diarrhea without any medical care. He lost his voice in jail.

On September 9, 2010, he was released from jail. However, he then found out that he just entered a bigger prison cell back in his village and what's more his family is jailed alongside him.

RMB 50 Million House Arrest Costs

Blogger Zhai Minglei continues:

陈光诚出狱后,我至今未能和他通上电话,所有电话被屏蔽了,难道这就是四年来我们的进步吗?以前被看守,但朋友们能通上电话,现在因为屏蔽技术的提 高,电话也不通了。夫妻俩连买菜都被禁止。连兄弟姐妹都无法探视。生活极度困难,从十月份,陈光诚的老母亲都没见过陈光诚。100多农民与看守被雇来每天 看守四个村口。外人无法进入。以前我去过陈光诚家,家徒四壁,用的还是奶奶的柴木老家俱。他的家叫寒凉。而我现在的心更为寒凉。

与此惊人对比是,山东用在光诚身上的维稳费的数目,你猜猜,有多少?

一位乡镇干部透露,用在光诚身上的维稳总费用是五千万,目前已用掉一千多万。看守光诚的看守劳动力成本低下,根本用不了这么多钱,这五千万可能是从上到下大小官员利益均占了吧。

I could not reach him over the phone after he was released from jail: the phone line has been blocked. So this is progress? In the past, even though he was under house arrest, friends could reach him on phone. Now technology has advanced and the phone line is blocked. The couple cannot leave the house, and even close relatives cannot visit them. Their living conditions are very harsh. Since October [2010], Chen's elderly mother has not been able to see her son. More than 100 villagers and security guards have been hired to monitor him. It is impossible for outsiders to enter the village. I once visited Chen's home. It is an empty house with some very old furniture left behind by his grandma. The house is cold but now my heart feel even colder.

Can you guess how much the Shandong government spends on maintaining Guangcheng under house arrest?

A county official revealed that the budget for this task is up to RMB 50 million [around USD 7.5 million], and until now they have spent more than RMB 10 million [around USD 1.5 million]. It is impossible to spend so much money on security labour; the money is probably shared among the personnel.

Zhai Minglei has urged concern citizens to join the ‘Free Guangcheng’ campaign:

1. Purchase flowers online to be delivered by courier, along with your message for the family;
2. Purchase toys or children’s books online to be delivered by courier to Chen’s 5-year-old daughter, along with a greeting;
3. Mail artwork on a postcard to the Chen family and their captors;
4. Mail a greeting card, invite Chen Guangcheng and his family to come visit you in your city;
5. To mark holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Spring Festival, mail a holiday card to the Chen family and their captors;
6. Find opportunities to ask politicians, academics or other prominent individuals to inquire into Chen and his family’s situation, to visit them if possible, or even provide some audio, video or a photograph which we would then display on the Free Guangcheng website.

Blocking ‘Light and Sincerity’

The literal meaning of the name ‘Guangcheng’ is ‘light and sincerity’, but Chen Guangcheng's name is blocked in the Chinese intranet. One can find very limited discussion on the topic in web forums hosted in China.

Twitter however, is a hot spot where news and information are disseminated. Below is a selection of comments from the social networking and microblogging service:

@ivaniweb

陈光诚的五十分钟录相说明我们正在这个紧要关头。光诚呼喊“救中国”的道理也在此。 难以想象光诚用何种方式一天天冒着巨大风险拍下这献给所有网络公民们的录相,又是如何送出来,环环相连,任何一个环节出错,都有生命危险。在连食物都无法供应的艰难困境中,这不是奇迹吗?

The 50 minute video tells us that we are now in a critical moment. That's why Guangcheng urges us to ‘Save China’. It is hard to image the risk Guangcheng has taken to make this video and have it released. People are risking their lives to get this video out. In a situation that even food cannot be delivered, this is like a miracle.

@jtyong

在陈光诚案中,中共将一个无罪的盲人陈光诚送进监狱,且一天不少的服满4年3月的徒刑,创世界非法、非人道、非人性之记录;今天,中国官方将因官方渎职犯罪酿震惊中外“中原血祸”致感染艾滋病、乙肝、丙肝的受害者田喜判刑一年,再创中共兲朝威武记录!

In Chen Guangcheng's case, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] sent an innocent blind person into the prison for four years and three months. It has broken the world record of illegal, inhuman practice. Today, the Chinese government breaks the record again by sentencing Tian Xi, a victim of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C inflection through blood transmission, to one year's imprisonment.

@wgzgz

陈光诚现状,中国政府能把一个村子变成监狱,说明中国政府是不讲诚信道德,有法不依,对自己颁布实施的宪法、法律、法规和签署国际人权公约当成一纸空文, 有法不依,维权与其说理,即当成敌对不稳定因素镇压,各级政府私雇用黑恶势力对维权者进绑架、殴打、关黑牢、违宪劳教等。中国政府有法不依的无赖

The Chinese government can turn a village into a prison. It indicates that the Chinese government is absolutely immoral. They break their own laws, constitution and international conventions. Whenever someone tries to reason for their rights, they label them as enemy forces and repress them. Local governments even hire gangs to beat up and abduct rights activists, sending them into black jails and labor camps. The Chinese government is a law breaking goon.

@guozhifei

光诚兄弟,你做的已经够多的啦,多多保重,事情得大家都去抗。

Brother Guangcheng, you have done enough, please take care of yourself. Let us shoulder your burden.

8 comments

  • Even though hearing about cases like this makes me really frustrated, I believe that things are changing in China. More people start showing their frustration and the information we have about dissidents being bullied by the government are mounting. There is only one explanation I have for that – the regime does not feel as strong as it declares on the outside.

  • Bruce Jackson

    I’m an American disciple of Jesus Christ and it really causes me tremendous grief when I read the stories of the persecution of my Christian brethren in China and I pray for them often.

    I also pray for the Chinese government leaders to realize that Christians pose NO threat to the security of harmony of Chinese society. I pray that some day there will be freedom of religion in China so people will be allowed to choose how and whom they will worship.

    It’s a serious waste of the People’s resources by the PSB and their efforts would be better suited investigating drug smugglers and corporate criminals and people committing espionage as this kind of crime does threaten the People’s security and harmony of Chinese society.

  • […] Post-Egypt, China's activists and social movements face a tough and tricky environment. The Chen Guangcheng incident, banning beggars, these are just the […]

  • […] China’s activists and social movements face a tough and tricky environment. The Chen Guangcheng incident, banning beggars, these are just the […]

  • […] February 2011, Pearl He has been trying to visit Chen Guangcheng and campaigning for his release. A few months ago I […]

  • […] taken away by police from her home in Nanjing on Friday April 27 2012. // Since February 2011, Pearl He has been trying to visit Chen Guangcheng and campaigning for his release.” [Global Voices […]

  • […] Pearl He [en] starała się odwiedzić Chena Guangchenga w jego areszcie domowym od lutego 2011 roku, prowadząc jednocześnie kampanię na rzecz jego uwolnienia. Kilka miesięcy temu udało mi się przeprowadzić z nią krótki wywiad na temat jej działalności w projekcie badawczym Gender and Citizenship [en] [Płeć i Obywatelstwo] koordynowanym przez organizację IT for Change [Technologia Informacyjna na Rzecz Zmian; Organizacja pozarządowa działająca w Indiach na rzecz rozwoju, przyp. A. Towarek]. Poniższy tekst jest podsumowaniem tego wywiadu internetowego: […]

  • […] Febroary 2011,  niezaka hitsidika an'i Chen Guangcheng izay teo ambany fanaraha-maso akaiky i Pearl He raha nanentana ny amin'ny hamotsorana azy. Volana vitsy lasa izay dia nanadihady azy aho momba […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site