by Garret Ean
Apr 27 2012
Detained human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has escaped the custody of local government officials who had been keeping him under house arrest since 2010. Chen is known as a lawyer who worked to expose forced abortions and sterilizations among 7,000 women in rural China.
While drawing attention to the human rights abuses in 2006, he was brought up on bogus charges of “deliberately destroying property” and “disrupting traffic”. After serving a four year prison sentence, he was confined to his home, where guards kept constant watch to prevent him from communicating with the outside world. Actor Christian Bale attempted to visit the activist in December of last year with a CNN film crew in tow, and was forcibly blocked from the property.
He reportedly escaped on April 22, and made his way to Beijing, where he released a 15 minute video announcing his safe escape and making requests of Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao. His video statement focuses on urging Wen to investigate the unlawful nature of his detention and the intimidation and physical force used against his supporters, as well as calling for an investigation into corruption at all levels.
While government internet censors attempted to stop spread of the news of his escape, the story was shared on Chinese social media by using generic tags such as ‘the blind man’ and ‘shawshank redemption’. It is reported that in the wake of his release, those who have been vocal in his support around the nation are being targeted for interrogation. Speaking after his escape, “‘I may be free but my worries are for my family…my wife, my child, my mother. Perhaps because of my leaving, they may become the target of more brutal abuse.” While Chen’s whereabouts are unknown, BBC is reporting that he is taking refuge in the US embassy, which US officials deny any knowledge of.