Why Is China So Afraid of One Blind Activist?

May 3, 2012

Protect Chen Guangcheng

Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, escaped house arrest in Shandong province last week – but his future remains uncertain.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was imprisoned and then subjected to violence and house arrest for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in China, made a daring, Houdini-like escape to the U.S. embassy. Following delicate negotiations with the United States, Chinese officials pledged to allow Chen to live a “normal life” with his family, and he initially agreed to return home.

Does this sound normal to you?

“I don’t know what’s happened to my mother. There are guards inside the yard, in all the rooms, even on the roof. They’ve set up lots of cameras in my home and are preparing electric fences. They told my family they’d take wooden sticks and beat my family to death, so it’s very unsafe.”
-Chen Guangcheng, in an interview with NPR

In recent hours, Chen has expressed a desire to leave China, fearing that he and his family can never enjoy freedom under the current system.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is currently underway in Beijing. Now is the time to urge leaders to respect Chen’s human rights and allow him to choose his own future.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is representing the United States in China today. Her presence can provide the pressure we need to ensure Chen’s safety.

The world is watching. Let Chen choose his own future.

For more, see my recent article on Huffington Post “What Comes Next for the Blind Chinese Dissident and US-Chinese Relations?”