A group of Internet activists trying to visit blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng has been detained by security forces, according to dissidents contacted by The Epoch Times. Chen has for months been confined to his home by thug-like enforcers, who have from time to time carried out violent raids and beatings. His case has received international attention from human rights groups.
The activists called their pilgrimage the “October 5 Visit to Chen Guangcheng,” but by the afternoon of Oct. 5 none of them were contactable by telephone, and the last messages they left were desperate cries for help.
Chen, who became famous when he was interviewed by Time magazine in 2005 about his investigation into regime-organized forced abortions, lives in Linyi, Shandong Province.
Finding his work a nuisance, in August 2006 communist authorities convicted him of “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic,” and sentenced him to four years in prison.
But after his release he was put under extralegal residential detention. He is prevented from having much contact with the outside world, and a group of hired roughs keep vigil around his house, throwing rocks at would-be visitors and tormenting Chen and his wife in captivity.
Liu Shasha, an Internet activist, first conceived the idea of visiting Chen, and enlisted five others from Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. They had joined forces with local activists Mr. Xu, Liu Yong, and a Buddhist monk named Shi Chexin.
All nine are unreachable, according to phone calls made by The Epoch Times and according to people who tried to contact the individuals.
Miao Jue, a relentless human rights activist who has long taken an interest in Chen’s case, told The Epoch Times that all of the individual’s cell phones appeared to be off. The last phone call that Miao Jue received was from Liu Shasha at 3 pm on Oct. 5.
Three hours previously the attempted visitor Zhu Wenli from Jiangsu Province had been captured. Zhu had previously called Liu Shasha, saying “I am in danger.” Nothing more was heard from him.
Freemoren, a news portal on Twitter that follows human rights cases, interviewed Zhu Wenli as he was clambering around in the corn fields near Chen Guangcheng’s house. He had been spotted, he said, and men were yelling “500 yuan, 500 yuan, we will get 500 yuan as a reward.” That is about US$80.
On the phone Zhu said that the land around Chen Guangcheng’s house has been cleared of vegetation, presumably to make surveillance easier for the guards. He said that the individuals patrolling the town’s entrances and exits, and Chen’s house, are being paid 100 yuan, or $15 a day. Soon after that phone call Zhu failed to pick up his phone again, presumably having been captured.
Miao Jue told Voice of America on Oct. 5 that in her conversation with Zhu, he said that villagers had told him that Chen Guangcheng was already dead.
The Epoch Times was unable to gain further information about that exchange, because Miao Jue herself soon disappeared. An employee at a hotel in Xuzhou, where she was staying, said she was taken away by police.
Chen’s case has received particular sympathy in China among netizens and others. The Oct. 5 is not the first of its kind, either. Chen’s work on behalf of groups harmed by the Chinese Communist Party set a lofty example, and many have sought to aid him for the selfless work he carried out in previous years.
After completing his jail sentence for his activism Chen returned home in September 2010 and has been under 24-hour surveillance since. Over 10 guards take turns monitoring his house day and night, and the authorities have installed a jamming system that stymies cell phone use in the area.
Chen’s elderly mother is the only one allowed out of the house—to shop for necessities—and only when accompanied by a guard. A few months after Chen was put under house arrest a video was leaked online detailing the conditions of their detention. This was cause for the men surrounding the house to conduct a raid and badly beat both Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing,
A Chinese netizen, reflecting on the case, wrote: “Prisoners of war are treated better than Chen Guangcheng.” Soon after, another responded: “Because prisoners of war have surrendered. Chen Guangcheng hasn’t.”
Read the original Chinese article.