Jailed Blind Human Rights Activist Refused Release for Treatment

January 20, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Chen Guangcheng's picture being held by a pro-democracy activist during a protest in Hong Kong. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)
Chen Guangcheng's picture being held by a pro-democracy activist during a protest in Hong Kong. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)
Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist, was refused release from prison despite a deteriorating health condition on Jan. 16., according to the Taiwan-based Central News Agency. Yuan Weijing, Chen’s wife, said the prison’s neglect had led to her husband’s poor health.

Chen was arrested in 2006 after exposing cases of forced abortion in Shandong province; he was then sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment under the charges of “damaging property and organizing a riot.”

Last year, Yuan was only permitted to visit her husband once, although, according to prison regulations, she had the right to visit him once a month.

According to BBC’s Chinese branch, when Yuan visited her husband in prison last December she was appalled to see how Chen had become “thin and shrunken up with a sickly yellow face.” Yuan said that Chen had been suffering from chronic episodes of diarrhea and passing blood since last July. She then put in a request on his behalf for a medical examination. 

Despite this, the prison only made routine medical examinations, claiming a lack of equipment. Yuan also made several appeals to have Chen released on parole due to his need for medical treatment, and because he had already served half his sentence. Officials told Yuan that the case was out of their hands. 

The department gave no reply about a request for a complete medical examination until very recently.  

Yuan explained that the prison gave her husband untreated water, though they knew he suffered severe cases of diarrhea. She said she was worried about his mental state, and complained that prison staff refused to let him listen to the radio, watch TV, or read books in Braille, and because of this he was virtually isolated from the outside world. 

Yuan once appealed to Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao, requesting the authorities stop harassing her and her family. Since the incidents began her house has been under surveillance by at least ten men, she says.

Chen’s wife and the human rights organization Chinese Human Rights Defender appealed to the Chinese authorities to provide further medical treatment for Chen.

Read the original Chinese article.