You would think life has moved on, and the Chinese government has gotten over Chen Guangcheng, the blind barefoot lawyer they had imprisoned and then placed under house arrest. But no, they haven’t. Exactly a year after Chen Guangcheng fled his heavily-guarded house in Dongshigu village on April 20, 2012, they are bearing down on him again by harassing and assaulting his family members in the village. Over the last year, the remaining family, and the village itself, have been carefully monitored, outside visitors were occasionally harassed, but it seemed nothing more than meanness on the part of local officials. Some of the pictures of the village brought to social media showed sunlight, trees, plain-looking farm houses, stone walls, and a general…. bucolic feel if you can forget for a moment the brutalities that have occurred there.
Over the past several week, Chen Guangfu (陈光福, CGC’s eldest brother and Chen Kegui’s father) and another of the Chen brothers have been under intense harassment. According to Chen Guangcheng’s own tweets and reports from Hu Jia, the prominent dissident in Beijing who maintains close contact with the Chen family, rocks, dead chickens and ducks have been thrown into Chen Guangfu’s courtyard in the middle of the night, and the latest “stone rain” occurred Tuesday night Beijing time. Fliers have been posted around the village denouncing the Chen brothers being “han jian” (汉奸, traitors of the Chinese people). Dozens of Guangfu’s young trees growing on his own land were pulled out, and no one responded to his calls to the police. Miles away in another town, another Chen brother’s car was vandalized and all four tires punctured. Joss papers were scattered around the brothers’ houses to supposedly “curse” them.
Last week, on April 18, two artists from Beijing, who had gone to the village to film Chen Guangcheng’s house and his escape route, were beaten by the village’s Communist Party chief Chen Guangshan and the security officer Liu Changsheng. According to Hu Jia, they shouted, “Beat them to death! Smash their car! The state will pay for it anyway!” The two artists eventually were able to leave but not without being questioned by the police of the township, not without one of them hiding in a graveyard for a night.
Wednesday afternoon, Beijing time, prosecutors from Yinan county government and policemen from Shuanghou township public security station came to Chen Guangfu’s home and took his wife away. According to the Notice of Summons posted on Twitter by Hu Jia, Kegui’s mother was summoned for allegedly “hiding and sheltering a criminal.” Chen Guangcheng’s other brother Chen Guangjun received a similar notice around the same time.
Here the “criminal” refers to Chen Kegui. After confronting thugs who broke into his home on April 26, 2012, in an act of self-defense, Chen Kegui ran away fearing for his life. He went to his uncle Chen Guangjun for help. The latter was too scared to keep him; instead, he gave him some money and asked him to leave as soon as possible. After Kegui’s arrest, Kegui’s mother and uncle were criminally detained on the same charges of “hiding and sheltering” Kegui, but were later released “on bail awaiting further investigation.”
We believe that this wave of intense harassment and assault on Chen Guangcheng’s family are meant to retaliate against Chen Guangcheng in light of his overseas activities. He’s currently visiting Germany. He’s in the process of preparing a visit to Taiwan later this year. Chen Guangcheng testified earlier this month during the “Human Rights in China” hearing by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in which he reiterated the need for western countries to uphold their ideals and to take a tough stand against China’s human rights violations. He also submitted to the committee a list of 44 Chinese officials who should be barred from entering the United States, including Zhou Yongkang (周永康), a former chief of Politics and Law Committee, Zhang Gaoli (张高丽), a current member of the Politburo Standing Committee and former party secretary of Shandong province, and other high-ranking officials of Shandong province and local government officials.
Well-known Chinese activist Wen Yunchao (@wenyunchao) commented that “all of the harassment of course is meant to pressure Chen Guangcheng and to shut him up. You can infer where the instructions came from. They cannot be from Shuanghou township government, nor from Linyi, Shandong. They can only come from the central government in Beijing.”
(This New York Times report has more details about the summons.)