May 4, 2012 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Chen Guangcheng, “in danger”

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the US authorities to allow the Chinese dissident human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and his family to come to the US.

“The US authorities must accept their responsibility in this matter,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By allowing Chen into their embassy on 26 April, they became responsible for his and his family’s safety. We call on the US government to facilitate their departure for the United States as soon as possible.”

The Chinese government today said Chen could go abroad to study, if so desired. The announcement was the first sign that a solution might be found to the deadlock. A US university has offered him a fellowship. He and his family need to be given passports and US visas quickly to allow them to travel.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Chinese authorities to guarantee that he will be allowed to return to China, and that he will be safe there, when he has completed his studies abroad.

Chen left the embassy and was taken to a hospital on 2 May, before US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Beijing for the latest round in the “Economic and Strategic Dialogue” between the United States and China. Those close to Chen suggested that he may have been pressured to leave the embassy. He was subsequently able to speak with Clinton by telephone and tell her what he wanted.

He was reunited with his wife and two children in the hospital, but was reportedly unable to contact the rest of his family.

Chen had initially planned to stay in China after receiving assurances from the Chinese authorities he and his family would be treated better, but the government quickly broke its promises. Surveillance of his relatives was stepped up while he was in the embassy and his wife was tied to a chair for two days and threatened with being beaten to death.

The Chinese lawyer who had been helping him, Jiang Tianyong, was taken and beaten by police officers yesterday until he was “deaf in one ear.”

Chen told Agence France-Presse that he was “in great danger” and “in a critical situation.” Yesterday, he reiterated his desire to go to the Unites States in phone call from his hospital bed with the US Congress while it was holding a hearing on his case.


30-04-2012 - Chen Guangcheng safe, Hu Jia arrested and released

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the US authorities to grant fugitive human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) its protection now that it seems to have been confirmed that he has found a temporary refuge in the US embassy.

Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), the wife of free speech activist Hu Jia (胡佳), meanwhile reported on Twitter on 28 April that Hu had been arrested for posting a photo of himself with Chen online. “He is to remain in police custody for another 24 hours,” she wrote. “I asked him where he was going to sleep and he replied: On a chair.” (传唤延长到24小时,我问胡佳睡哪,说让待椅子上). He was finally released yesterday.

Hu and his wife have been under a form of house arrest together ever since he was freed in June 2011 on completing a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence on a subversion charge for posting articles online criticizing censorship and for giving interviews to foreign media. Also well-known for his defence of the environment and AIDS sufferers, he was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2008.

Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to put a stop to the illegal mistreatment of Chen Guangcheng’s relatives and friends and to release his assistants and the other persons suspected of helping him to escape from house arrest. The organization also calls on the authorities to end Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan’s house arrest.

Chen’s fate is expected to be one of the leading topics when US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and treasury secretary Timothy Geithner are in Beijing on 3 and 4 May for a new round of talks in the “strategic and economic dialogue” between the United States and China.


27.04.2012 - Well-known dissident Chen Guangcheng escapes from house arrest

Reporters Without Borders urges the government of the country concerned to grant fugitive human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng and his family political asylum if it is true, as some say, that he has found refuge in a foreign embassy in Beijing after escaping earlier this week from the house arrest to which he had been subjected since release from prison in 2010.

“On the other hand, if Chen is still on Chinese territory, the Chinese authorities must now end his house arrest – of which the abuses probably prompted him to escape – and stop harassing him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Chen deserves to be able to lead a normal life. It was his defence of human rights that led to his arrest. He is not a criminal.”

Reporters Without Borders also calls on the Chinese authorities to guarantee the safety of Chen’s family and not use them as bargaining chips; to provide an explanation of the mistreatment inflicted on Chen and his family, which was unacceptable; and to punish those responsible severely.

One of China’s leading dissident human rights lawyers, Chen eluded his guards in his home in Dongshigu, in Shandong province, on 22 April and is now “in a safe place” in Beijing, some of his supporters say. This may be an embassy, possibly the US embassy.

Since making his escape, Chen, who is blind, has recorded a video that has been circulated by Boxun, an independent Chinese website based in the United States, and is available on YouTube. He addresses three demands to Prime Minister Wen Jiaobo in the video:

- He asks Wen to order an investigation into the mistreatment and beatings received by his family members, and he names local officials who had been mistreating his wife, his son, his mother and himself since late 2010.
- He asks that his family’s safety be guaranteed.
- And he calls for corruption in China to be dealt with properly, and for those responsible to be punished according to the law.

Since his escape, at least two of his assistants have reportedly been arrested – He Peirong, who is said to have helped him escape, and Guo Yushan. His home, where his wife, mother and daughter are still located, is reportedly surrounded by police. His brother and nephew are said to have been beaten and taken to a police station.

A self-taught lawyer and blind since childhood, Chen is known as the “barefoot lawyer” who campaigned against forced sterilization, late abortions and land seizures. Chinese and foreign journalists and fellow-dissidents who have tried to visit him since his release from prison in 2010 have been systematically turned away and sometimes attacked by those guarding his home.

Chen’s escape is all the more embarrassing for the Chinese government as it comes amid an internal crisis linked to the purge of the once popular politician Bo Xilai. Prime Minister Wen is meanwhile on a European tour and is due to meet next week with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who has publicly supported Chen in the past.