[Nfbmo] 2nd Story: Chinese Blind Activist escape inspires otherChinese dissidents

Debbie Wunder debbiewunder at centurytel.net
Tue May 1 15:31:52 UTC 2012

Thank you Dan for posting this!
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <DanFlasar at aol.com>
To: <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 10:53 PM
Subject: [Nfbmo] 2nd Story: Chinese Blind Activist escape inspires 
otherChinese dissidents

> Again, from today's Huffingtonpost, link follows text below
> BEIJING — The surprising escape of a blind legal activist from house 
> arrest
> to the presumed custody of U.S. diplomats is buoying China's embattled
> dissident  community even as the government lashes out, detaining those 
> who
> helped him and  squelching mention of his name on the Internet.
> The flight of Chen Guangcheng, a campaigner for disabled rights and 
> against
> coercive family planning, is a challenge for China's authoritarian
> government  and, if it's confirmed he is in U.S. custody, for Washington 
> too.
> Assistant  Secretary of State Kurt Campbell began a hurried mission to 
> Beijing on
> Sunday to  smooth the way for annual talks involving his boss, Hillary
> Clinton, Treasury  Secretary Timothy Geithner and scores of officials.
> Though Chen – a self-taught legal activist described by friends and
> supporters as calm and charismatic – hardly seems a threat, security 
> forces and
> officials have reacted angrily, detaining several of his supporters and a
> nephew  who fought with officials after the escape was discovered is on 
> the
> run.
> Police showed up at the home of veteran activists Zeng Jinyan and Hu Jia,
> who  met with Chen last week while he was hiding in Beijing. Police took 
> Hu
> away  Saturday for 24 hours. They questioned Zeng for about a half-hour at
> home,  sounding, she said, "very unhappy" about Chen's flight.
> "They were really irritated," Zeng said. "It was a big shock for them."
> Ai Xiaoming, a documentary film maker based in southern Guangzhou city,
> said  Chen's escape has had the biggest emotional impact on Chinese rights
> advocates  since jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize two 
> years
> ago.
> "There are many people now drinking toasts to him for the way he broke
> through his captivity, his difficulties, and pursued freedom," said Ai. 
> "It's
> what we all want for ourselves in our hearts. Chen Guangcheng is an 
> example
> to  us. If a blind person can break out of the darkness to freedom, then
> everyone  can."
> China's state-controlled media have so far ignored the story despite its
> gripping narrative and the serious implications it could have on Sino-U.S.
> relations. Anything vaguely related to Chen has been blocked on Chinese
> social  media sites, such as posts including or key word searches for 
> Chen,
> Guangcheng,  GC, or even the words "blind person."
> The media blackout and online controls haven't prevented China's Internet
> savvy activist community from learning about or celebrating Chen's escape.
> After  state television aired a rerun Saturday of the American prison 
> break
> film  "Shawshank Redemption," some gleefully tweeted that it was an 
> indirect
> nod to  Chen. "Shawshank Redemption" became a banned search term.
> Chen's whereabouts have yet to be cnfirmed. Activists in China and 
> overseas
> have said Chen is either under U.S. protection or in the U.S. Embassy.
> Chen's escape comes as the Chinese leadership is already reeling, trying 
> to
> heal divisions over the ousting of a powerful politician, Bo Xilai, and
> complete  a once-a-decade transition to a new generation of leaders. As in
> Chen's case,  the U.S. is implicated: Bo's ouster was precipitated by the
> sudden flight of an  aide to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
> While the aide, Wang Lijun, gave himself up to Chinese authorities – and
> though Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for letting a
> valuable  intelligence asset go – the incident and Chen's escape reaffirm
> long-held  suspicions by Beijing that the U.S. wants to undermine the 
> communist
> government.  Late last week, the White House, in a reversal, said it was
> considering selling  new warplanes to Taiwan – the democratic island China 
> claims
> as a breakaway  territory.
> It's not known what Chen's intentions are: some say he wants to stay in
> China. But negotiating any exit from U.S. custody is likely to be 
> difficult
> for  the Obama administration. Beijing is likely to be wary of any
> concessions,  fearing they might embolden other activists.
> Without confirming if Chen is in U.S. hands, Obama's counterterrorism
> adviser  John Brennan said the president would work to further human 
> rights while
> preserving ties with Beijing.
> "I think in all instances the president tries to balance our commitment to
> human rights, making sure that the people throughout the world have the
> ability  to express themselves freely and openly, but also that we can 
> continue
> to carry  out our relationships with key countries overseas," Brennan said
> on the U.S.  television news show "Fox News Sunday".
> Complicating any negotiations over Chen is the treatment of his family.
> While  Chen escaped a week ago from Dongshigu village and made it 600
> kilometers (370  miles) northwest to Beijing, his wife and 6-year-old 
> daughter were
> left behind.  The whereabouts of several other relatives, including Chen's
> mother and brother,  are unknown.
> Seven lawyers have volunteered to defend Chen's nephew, Chen Kegui, who
> allegedly confronted and stabbed local officials who stormed his house in 
> the
> middle of the night on Thursday in apparent retribution for the activist's
> escape.
> One volunteer lawyer, Liu Weiguo, said he spoke with Kegui briefly Sunday
> afternoon via mobile phone. Kegui told the lawyer he was by a highway 
> about
> 120  kilometers (75 miles) from his home village, penniless and hoping to
> find a  local police station where he could turn himself in.
> "Since he escaped, they haven't punished his persecutors in Shandong"
> province, said Zeng, the Beijing activist. "Instead it's the activists and
> supporters who have been detained or disappeared. It's very clear that 
> Chen's
> supporters and family members are very vulnerable right now."
> Among the activists still in custody are He Peirong, a Nanjing activist 
> and
> Chen supporter who drove the blind lawyer's getaway car out of his home
> province  of Shandong, and Guo Yushan, a Beijing scholar and rights 
> advocate
> who aided  Chen in the capital.
> For a rural activist, Chen had gathered a wide following, a testament to
> what  supporters describe as his generous spirit and determination to 
> fight
> injustice.  His exposure of forced abortions and sterilizations in his
> community so angered  officials, they persecuted him, sending him to jail 
> for four
> years and then upon  his release confining him to his home, where he was
> isolated and occasionally  beaten.
> Civil rights lawyers, journalists, diplomats and even British actor
> Christian  Bale have tried to penetrate the heavy security that has 
> surrounded Chen
> for the  last 20 months. Each time, hired guards drove them back, 
> sometimes
> pelting  outsiders with rocks and chasing them with cars.
> For China's human rights defenders, Chen's dash to freedom was a bright
> spot  after nearly two years of mounting harassment. Ai, the documentary
> filmmaker,  said Chen's hardships have been unique but his aspirations for 
> a more
> open  society with greater legal protections are shared by many.
> "We have jails inside ourselves that make us worry that we will be 
> punished
> if we speak our minds because this society doesn't respect the rule of law
> and  doesn't fully protect freedom of speech," she said. "Chen Guangcheng
> is a model,  and he has shown us that we can break away from those fears."
> link:
> _http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/29/chen-guangcheng-escape-ch_n_1462635.html_
> (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/29/chen-guangcheng-escape-ch_n_1462635.html)
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