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Asia

Blind Chinese activist beaten for film

The organization China Aid claims blind Chinese activist and dissident Chen Guangcheng was beaten by police for making a video about his life under house arrest. China Aid had made the video public earlier this week.

Chen Guangcheng talks about his life under house arrest

Chen Guangcheng talks about his life under house arrest

Chen's film was made secretly at his home and is the first time anyone has heard from the activist since he was released from jail in September last year.

One of the statements is likely to have angered the authorities the most: "The Communist Party and especially the conservatives in the party place themselves above the constitution. They repress the rural population and try to prevent any democracy activism. And it is getting worse. They use gangster tactics and say things like, 'we can beat you for as long as we want. The justice system will pay no attention.'"

And it happened just as he predicted: on Thursday he and his wife were violently beaten in their home, as reported by China Aid.

Forced abortions

The authorities had started watching Chen in 2005, after he began helping people from his village sue the local government. He also accused the government of enforcing the one-child-policy by forcing women to get abortions. China reacted harshly and sentenced him to four years in prison in 2006 on accusations of "destruction of public property" and "obstructing the traffic by organizing mass gatherings."

Yuan Weijing made a large heap of corn straw to block the view into her home

Yuan Weijing made a large heap of corn straw to block the view into her home

In the video, he tells what happened after his release last year. "When I got home, they set up a mobile phone jammer. But I was still able to use my mobile. Then they set up equipment at the neighbors’ houses that also interfere with the connection. They had already shut off the landline. So, I was really transferred from a small jail cell to a larger one."

In the beginning of the video, you see a small head popping up above a heap of corn straw. Then the head disappears. The head belongs to a secret service agent who apparently has to stand on his toes to see over the heap. During the sequence you hear the voice of Yuan Weijing, Chen Guangcheng’s wife, saying, "I made a high pile of corn straw so they can’t constantly look into our house. But they ended up borrowing a ladder from the neighbor and now they stand there every day and watch us."

An otherwise peaceful place

Chen's traditional northwestern Chinese style farm house is under surveillance

Chen's traditional northwestern Chinese style farm house is under surveillance

It is not certain how the American organization got hold of the video. But China Aid claims they got it from an official who doesn’t agree with the way Chen is being treated. In the one-hour video, you see a northern Chinese style farm. There are four houses that surround a square. Ears of corn are lying out to dry on the roof and down below you can see piles of cabbage and pumpkins and chickens in the square.

Chen lives there with his wife, her mother and his young child. Chen’s wife explains that their situation has not improved. "In 2005 I was still allowed to go outside. Then eight men started accompanying me anytime I wanted to go shopping. Later they stopped letting me go out all together. We are not allowed to have neighbors or friends over; not even my brothers are allowed to come over. The only way we can go shopping is by sending my 76-year-old mother."

The Chinese authorities frequently use house arrest as a means of silencing critics - the most well-known case being Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, who has been cut off from the outside world since October. There are no laws in China to regulate the treatment of people under house arrest.

Author: Mathias Boelinger (sb)
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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