Blind Lawyer Denied Medical Treatment in Chinese Prison

October 18, 2009 Updated: October 18, 2009

Blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who was imprisoned after exposing government violence in forced abortions in 2005, has been physically abused in prison, according to his wife Yuan Weijing.

Speaking in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Oct. 14, Ms. Yuan said that Chen, who also provided legal assistance to local peasants and disabled persons, was sentenced to four years and three months in Linyi Prison for “purposely damaging property and gathering the public to disturb traffic order.”

“I am so worried," she said. "The prison does not allow visits. I asked him whether he could get fruit in the prison. He told me there was no such thing. He told me he had ulcers on his tongue, which makes it difficult to eat.”

Chen has also been suffering from severe diarrhea with blood in the stool continuously for nine months. Yuan said the prison has not provided any medical exam or treatment and has denied his family’s request for a medical release, though Chen has reportedly lost 18 lbs. in the past month.

Yuan issued a letter to the World Blind Union in advance of the Oct. 15 International Day of the Blind. In the letter, she wrote about the recent situation of Chen and how her requests for Chen to be released on medical bail have been denied.

“My husband is blind," Yuan said in the letter. "According to laws in China, he is supposed to serve his sentence outside of prison. The government rejected his lawyer’s application to serve his sentence outside of prison, and my husband was put in Linyi Prison. He has a hard time taking care of his daily routine. The prison does not have Braille books and does not allow us to send him Braille books. He told me that he once went on a hunger strike because he was beaten by a group of prisoners.”

Violation of Disability Rights

According to a report by the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG), Chen has requested a reduced sentence. China ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in August 2009. The Chinese regime’s actions with regard to Chen are in violation of that agreement.

There are international norms for the treatment of disabled prisoners. The CHRLCG has called on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to immediately release Chen for humane reasons.

Alber Ho, CHRLCG chairman, has been on a hunger strike every Wednesday since March 18, 2009, in support of Chinese human rights lawyers and activists. “I have seriously never heard of any blind person in a civilized country serving a sentence in prison,” Ho said.

Read article in Chinese