Families Not Allowed to Visit Blind Human Rights Activist

By Zhang Min, Radio Free Asia
January 29, 2007 Updated: January 29, 2007

January 25 was the first visiting-day for Chinese blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng. After he was sentenced, Chen's family went to the detention center to visit him. However, they were not allowed to meet. Chen's attorney pointed out that this action by the Chinese Communist regime is not in accordance with the law, and that it also violates human rights.

Mr. Chen Guangfu, the oldest brother of Chen Guangcheng explained the details regarding the detention center visit to a reporter:

Mr. Chen Guangfu: “My mom and I took the bus to the county. Chen's fourth older brother Chen Guangxin also came along. The detention center had previously told us that the 25th, 26th and 27th days of the month are visiting days. When we entered the center, together with others, the guards asked us who we were visiting. We told the name 'Guangcheng.' They asked us if the final trial had ended, and we told them it had. Then we were allowed to enter the detention center.

When it was our turn to register our names, they wrote only my mother's name. I thought we would not be allowed to visit if they did not write down all of our names, so I said 'I want to accompany my mom to see Guangcheng.' They replied that as long as we were visiting the same person, three of you could enter together. So we waited, full of hope, from 2:00p.m. until 3:30p.m.. At that time we were told that we could not actually visit, since one of the procedures for Guangcheng had not yet ended.

Reporter: “What was the procedure?”

Chen Guangfu: “I asked them and they told me 'If you need an explanation, you should go to the office on the second floor in the front building to inquire.' I went to that office where I was told 'we can't explain well either. You don't need to wait any more, go back home right away.'”

Mr. Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist who has become famous for exposing violence and abuse associated with the enforcement of birth quotas in Linyi City, Shandong Province, was tried on August 18, 2006. His own attorneys were not allowed to be present at the trial. Chen was sentenced to a four-year-and-three-month imprisonment term on the charges of “assembling a crowd to obstruct traffic order and deliberately damaging property.”

Chen opposed the conviction and filed an appeal. The Intermediate Court of Linyi city decided to revoke the verdict from the first trial and retry Chen. On December 1, 2006, the verdict from the second trial was the same as the first trial. Chen Guangcheng once again filed an appeal and the outcome of that trial on January 12, 2007 was to keep the verdict from the first trial.

Reporter: “Did they tell you when you can meet with Guangcheng?”

Chen Guangfu: “We asked them, but they responded that they didn't know.”

Mr. Li Fangping, who was the attorney for Guangcheng stated that “The detention center does not allow his family to visit him. Speaking from a legal point of view, Chen Guangcheng was already sentenced after the second trial, therefore he should be considered 'a sentenced person.' He has the right to demand a visit by his family. Being family members, his family also has the right to visit him, because the case has already been closed.

“Therefore, not allowing his family members to visit him is illegal. It also does not comply with his rights as a human being. They (workers at the detention center) said that there was another procedure that had not yet been finalised, and that was obviously not true, either.”