Chen Guangcheng is an activist in China’s northern Shandong Province. He is blind and lives in the tiny rural village of Dongshigu, where he fought for the rights of peasants and especially women who faced forced sterilization and other abuses. He was imprisoned more than 4 years for his efforts and then placed under house arrest. His case reached the international audience after several attempts to visit him, most famously by the actor Christian Bale, were beaten back by local police and hired guards. He recently escaped from house arrest and made a run for it …
Chen Guangcheng is free, for now, and as far as anyone knows, safe. Bill Fu of China Aid tweeted earlier today that CGC was in the 100% safest location in Beijing, which led many to believe that the US has yet another hot potato on its hands …
The story broke on Weibo first, then it was picked up by Yaxue Cao of SeeingredinChina and as soon as she wrote her post and tweeted the news, the whole China Watcher Universe mobilized. ABCNews had a story out very quickly, as did CNN, Reuters and others. For an hour or so, people were speculating about where he is, whether or not he was safe, what happened to He Peirong and what the consequences could be for his family back home. China Digital Times has a breakdown of how the info spun …
Then just now, a video recording of Chen was released on Youtube. In this video Chen describes the surveillance is family was under: “one team in my house, one side outside of my house, more – using my house as the fulcrum – stationed at every intersection and, during the most serious times, all the way to Yingcheng, where 7-8 men stood guard at the bridge.”
The beatings his wife and mother endured “even now, years later, you can easily feel the bumps on her head”;
and he names names. From the village head, to the police chief to various workers and officials within the county’s administration, he names them all. He speaks of the cash incentive for watching and beating him – 100RMB per day, with 10 going to the boss and 90 to the thug – and he expresses his fears for his family.
It is a very intense moment for China, China’s dissidents and for the ruling clique who, in the midst of a nasty takedown, now have to deal with a very famous activist who has escaped. And may have “pulled a Wang Lijun” by heading to the US Embassy … Let’s hope it all works out:
from @bequelin: “Chen Guangcheng may have escaped from house arrest, but he is certainly not safe, nor are his family and supporters.”
Update: Friday Midnight, not much more to tell really other than the complete censorship of Weibo, Chen Kegui (see Yaxue’s post linked above) may be on the run and the US is sticking to “no comment” China Geeks has this post.
Update: Saturday 5am, NYT’s Andrew Jacobs says it’s “fairly certain” that Chen Guangcheng is in the US embassy. The last dissident to hole up with the Americans, the late Fang Lizhi, spent a year in the Embassy until his departure from China could be negotiated. But BBCNews reports that Bill Fu from China Aid has spoken to CGC, who said he wants to stay in China.
Good luck brother. Youtube Video Below: