China Rural Dissident in Detention, Says Family

March 13, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: March 13, 2006 12:00 am

BEIJING – A Chinese rural activist whose campaign against coercive family planning stirred international concern was apparently in police detention on Monday, his wife said.

Chen Guangcheng was detained on Saturday night after residents of his home in Dongshigu village in eastern China's Shandong province clashed with police over claims a villager had been beaten by officers.

Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, told Reuters on Monday that the previous night she had received a notice from the police station in the nearby town of Shuanghou. It said Chen was being held there for questioning over the clash along the highway that cuts through the village.

Yuan said the official interrogation time had expired at 9 on Sunday night but she had received no word of Chen's whereabouts. Police were preventing her from leaving her house, she said.

The police notice said Chen, who is blind, was suspected of “illegally holding up vehicles and causing a serious traffic jam”. Yuan said Chen did not lead the protest and remained beside the highway.

“It seems to me that the police were preparing for this, and looking for an excuse to detain him,” she said.

Nobody answered telephone calls to the police station. A senior township official, Zhu Hongguo, said he had no comment about the matter.

Chen, in his mid-30s, taught himself law to press his rights as a disabled citizen. Late last year, Chen drew international attention to villagers' claims that officials had been enforcing late-term abortions and other coercive family planning measures. He has been under virtual house arrest ever since.