News about blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng continues to trouble Chinese and international society.
Chen and his family have been under tight house arrest in their home in Dongshigu Village, Linyi County, Shandong Province since his release from prison over a year ago, with his young daughter Kesi prevented from attending school.
According to information on Twitter, authorities have finally allowed the child to attend a nearby elementary school as a result of public pressure and international attention.
At the same time, troubling rumors have surfaced in the village in early October that Chen may be dead.
An insider, who did not wish to be named, said that the “Free Guangcheng” movement on the Internet, and worldwide attention to Chen’s high profile case, have forced authorities in Linyi to allow Chen’s daughter to attend school. Under the escort of a guard, Kesi went to school on Oct. 16. Authorities also set up a temporary wooden shack at the school entrance to watch her.
He Peirong, a person concerned with Chen’s case, said she was glad about the decision to let Kesi go to school but hoped that the child will have a normal life and will not keep being escorted to and from school. She also hoped that authorities will openly report on Chen’s condition, his medical status and diet, and details about his daughter’s schooling.
Zeng Jinyan, wife of Hu Jia, an environmental and AIDS activist, said on Twitter that it was inappropriate and dangerous for a little girl to be escorted to school by a guard instead of her parent. Zeng referred to the daughter of missing attorney Gao Zhisheng, who was also escorted to and from school by police and suffered much humiliation. This created severe long-lasting mental problem for the girl.
In January and June, He Peirong visited Chen’s family in Dongshigu Village. She had her car smashed, was kidnapped and robbed.
Beginning Sept. 18, many other people, including some reporters, went to Dongshigu Village in groups. They were intercepted, beaten, and robbed.
These people wrote about their experiences on blogs and Twitter and gradually caught the public’s attention. Now there are many Chen supporters, include scholars, writers, businessmen, artists, and college students, according to He.
Meanwhile, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Oct. 5 that some villagers said Chen is already dead. Several media have picked up the news. VOA is attempting to verify Chen’s status.
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers said in an Oct. 7 press release: “If Chen is dead, then the Chinese Communist Party is fully responsible for killing him through torture, denial of medical treatment and slow starvation. If Chen is alive, we urgently demand that he and his family be released immediately and unconditionally, for medical evaluation and treatment.”
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and China Aid Association, among others, are leading an international effort to free Chen.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, exposed the systematic use of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization as part of China’s One Child Policy. In August 2006, he was sentenced to four years and three months in prison where he was subjected to torture. After his release on Sept. 9, 2010, his family has been under house arrest that included beatings of Chen and his wife.
Time Magazine named Chen in its “2006 Top 100 People Who Shape Our World,” under the category of “Heroes and Pioneers.”
Read the original Chinese article.