Blind Human Rights Activist Missing for Over 20 Days

April 2, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: April 2, 2006 12:00 am

Chen Guangcheng is a renowned human rights defender in Linyi City, Shandong Province. He was arrested by the authorities on the evening of March 11, 2006 and has been missing for over 20 days. His older brother Chen Guangfu has appealed for urgent attention from the outside world during an interview with The Epoch Times on April 1. He earnestly hopes for help from lawyers.

When a reporter called the Shuanghou Town Police Station, town mayor Zhu Hongguo and the Yinan City Public Security Bureau, they all claimed no knowledge of this.

Since Chen Guangcheng had been arrested, the police force in the village has been greatly reinforced. The authorities shouted propaganda through loudspeakers and went door to door, threatening villagers by following them and placing them under surveillance. They blocked the villagers from disclosing news to the outside world through spreading rumors and intimidation, and they coerced the villagers to “expose and denounce” Chen Guangcheng. Guangcheng's wife Yuan Weijing has been closely monitored, her phone line has been cut and she has lost contact with the outside world. Chen Guangfu's home has also been monitored. When he goes outdoors, he is closely followed. Government officials, police officers and plain-clothed agents have continuously intimidated Chen Guangcheng's 70-year-old mother, telling her how Guangcheng had been tortured. Guangcheng's mother is overwhelmed with grief.

Chen Guangfu is extremely worried. He said that Guangcheng is upright and outspoken, and would definitely resist and go on a hunger strike to protest. Guangcheng is in poor health. He has stomach problems and has difficulty moving about as he is blind. Guangfu is worried what would happen to Guangcheng.

Missing for 20 Days

At about 7pm on March 11, Chen Guangyu was beaten by the guards as revenge. He had blood all over his face. Chen Guangcheng went to reason it out with the guards at the east end of the village, but it did not lead to any result.

Chen Guangcheng, Chen Guangyu, Yuan Weijing and Chen Guangjun then went to the “general headquarters of the guards” at a neighboring village to demand justice. After being rejected, they went to highway 205 and tried to hitchhike to the Yinan County. Riot police forestalled them and blocked traffic on the highway. Over 100 police and guards from the country and the village came. The confrontation lasted for an hour, and then Assistant Commissioner Liu Changji of the Yinan County Public Security Bureau ordered the arrest of Chen Guangcheng, Chen Guangyu and Chen Guangjun. At 3pm on March 12, Yuan Weijing received a “Notice for Continued Interrogation” from the Yinan County Public Security Bureau. The notice claimed that Chen would be questioned until 9pm that day. However since then, no news has been heard about Chen. On March 17, Chen Guangyu and Chen Guangjun's family received notice about their criminal detention, which stated that they are being held at the Yinan Detention Center. However there has been no notice about Chen Guangcheng and his whereabouts are unknown.

Authorities Intimidating Villagers

Since Chen Guangcheng was arrested, the authorities have strengthened monitoring and controlling his relatives and the villagers. In order to block the media and lawyers from entering the village, the authorities set up guards, some plain-clothed police officers and some hired thugs, at each entrance of the village. The number of people monitoring Yuan Weijing has increased to somewhere between twenty and thirty.

Government officials and police officers continuously went to villagers' homes, threatening them into cooperating with the government and reporting on Chen Guangcheng. They deceived villagers into signing some kind of form/document to substantiate Chen's “crime.” They also threatened villagers by saying, “Do not interfere with Chen Guangcheng's affairs, otherwise, you will have the same fate…” In recent days, a work team consisting of government officials from various levels came to the village and shouted propaganda through loudspeakers several times a day, “All phones in the village are being monitored now. We know clearly what you are saying on the phone. Anybody disclosing information about Chen will meet the same fate as Chen Guangcheng and those arrested.” It was reported that some of the firm supporters of Chen Guangcheng have been arrested, some have been forced to leave home and sent to forced labor. Some villagers began to be afraid. Some villagers oddly claimed no knowledge of Chen when answering calls from the reporter.

Authorities Attempt to Frame Chen

Villagers have pointed out angrily that it was the police who illegally blocked the traffic to prevent Chen Guangcheng from going to the County to seek justice, but they used this to put the blame on Guangcheng. The villagers are worried about the severe situation. The authorities are gathering “evidence” to frame Guangcheng. Last September, the authorities wanted to place him on trial under the charge of leaking state secrets.

Villagers disclosed that for over half a year, the police have unsuccessfully combined threats with inducements on the villagers, trying to collect “proof of Guangcheng's so-called crimes.” This time, they deliberately stirred up trouble to get an “excuse.” According to the villagers, the beating of Guangyu was for seeking revenge on the one hand and setting up a trap on the other hand in order to provoke Guangcheng so that they could frame him.

Some villagers said that there are many villagers supporting Guangcheng, and the government is afraid, so they have arrested Guangcheng as a warning to others.

Some villagers said that they were quite brave a while ago, but recently have become timid because officers have come to make threats everyday, creating an atmosphere of terror.