Blind Activist’s Wife Arrested Prior to Receiving Rights Award
BEIJING–Yuan Weijing, wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Mr. Chen Guangcheng, was seized by police at Beijing Airport on her way to the Philippines to accept a human rights award on behalf of her jailed husband.
Yuan Weijing (Mrs. Chen Guangchen) dissapeared from Beijing Airport on the morning of August 24. It was verified that evening that Mrs. Chen had been arrested by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers at the airport and sent back to her parents’ home in Shandong Province. The officers beat her up on the way home, according to another human rights activist, Hu Jia, who talked to Mrs. Chen over the phone after her release.
Hu Jia said, “She (Mrs. Chen Guangcheng) called me on 3:15 p.m. She told me in a whisper that she was in a women’s restroom and that the police had arrested her and confiscated all of her belongings.”
Hu Jia did not have the chance to verify whether Mrs. Chen made the call from a restroom in the airport or while she was being taken back home. “She didn’t have time to tell me who arrested her until later that day,” said Hu Jia. “I think there is an 80% possibility that it was secret police from Shandong’s State Security Bureau (SSB) that arrested her.”
At 9:00 p.m. Mrs. Chen called Hu Jia from Shandong. She sounded like she was in a lot of pain, said Hu. The PSB officers lured her down to the underground level, she explained, where a dozen police officers from Shandong seized her took her back to her parents’ home by force. During the trip, the police beat her up and stole her personal belongings, including a camera. “They almost broke my arm!” Mrs. Chen told Hu over the phone.
Hu Jia said, “Chen Guangcheng is an sore spot for the Shandong provincial government because he exposed the dark secrets of their forced birth control operations, and his wife keeps exposing the Chinese regime’s human rights violations to foreign media. She has revealed to the world facts about the forced birth control, corrupt officials, and the failing judiciary system. The Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs (CCCPC) and the PSB must feel that it is a challenge to control dissidents in Beijing. Mrs. Chen Guangcheng is not making it easier for them. They won’t allow the spread of dissidents.” Hu Jia said that he believes the arrest was planned by the PSB’s Domestic Security Bureau.
Lately, foreign media has ran stories of Mrs. Chen Guangcheng’s decision to accept the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in Philippines on behalf of her husband.
According to Hu Jia, before Mrs. Chen left for the Beijing Airport on Friday morning, reporters from Reuters, NBC and many other foreign media came to Hu Jia’s home to interview with Mrs. Chen. According to the communist regime’s new regulations, foreign media may conduct interviews freely before the 2008 Olympic Games. However, about 30 SSB officers showed up and stopped the foreign reporters from interviewing Mrs. Chen.
Mr. Chen Guangcheng was accused of “intentional vandalism and disruption of traffic by an assembly” and was sentenced to prison for 51 months because he exposed the practice of forced birth control by the local government in Linyi, Shandong province. His wife was placed under house arrest in August 2005 and then kept under around-the-clock surveillance. The government announced it would end its surveillance on May 28, but Mrs. Chen continues to be spied on.