Chinese prison authorities have denied the nephew of blind activist Chen Guangcheng urgent medical treatment for acute appendicitis, while police increase their persecution of his relatives, according to rights groups.
While publicly announcing that all charges against Chen’s family have been dismissed, local Shandong Province police harassment has intensified following Chen’s testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in early April.
Last year, Chen Kegui was arrested and imprisoned for defending his family against a gang of security police who broke into his home looking for Chen Guangcheng after his escape from house arrest.
Chen Kegui’s father, Chen Guangfu, attempted to obtain medical leave for him, “But the prison authorities wouldn’t accept it, because they said it was only granted in cases where the prison hospital couldn’t treat the case themselves,” he told Radio Free Asia.
The prison authorities have not moved him to the prison hospital and are continuing to treat the appendicitis with antibiotics, saying it is a cyst.
Meanwhile, local thugs have assailed his family home.
Family members say that local bullies are increasing their aggression against the family: throwing stones and bottles at their house, throwing dead chickens and ducks (a form of death threat in China) into their courtyard, breaking off young trees, and hanging posters around their village accusing the Chen family of being traitors.
Although Chinese officials assured U.S. diplomats that after Chen Guangcheng fled China, the authorities would not harm his family, he says members of his family have been continually subject to acts of violence: some been threatened, beaten and attacked, and some tortured. The refusal to provide essential medical care, a common method of punishing dissidents in China, is the latest tactic in this retaliation.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) says Chen told him that his relatives in China were under threat. “He [Chen] was told by party officials that his family members would be killed as dead ducks and chickens,” Rep. Smith said, speaking at press conference outside the Capitol building on April 24.
Human rights groups are appealing to the Communist Party to allow Chen Kegui access to hospitalization and visits from his family, and are asking the United States and the international community to do the same.
Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught lawyer who was in 2006 imprisoned in China for exposing abuses in the enforcement of the one-child policy, particularly forced abortions. He was placed under house arrest upon his release from prison in 2010, and managed to escape the confinement, in spite of his blindness and the guards and lookouts surrounding his home, in 2012. He fled to a United States embassy later that year and, after negotiations, was allowed to fly to the United States, where he now lives.