November 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - GQ Magazine may be more renowned for its grasp of fashion, food and female beauty than the ins-and-outs of Chinese human rights politics, but even the editors of the gentleman’s monthly can’t help but give due homage to the steel nerve of China’s most famous dissident, Chen Guangcheng.
In their latest issue, GQ has named Chen their “Rebel of the Year,” accompanying the honor with a first-hand account by Chen describing the aftermath of his David-and-Goliath battle with the Communist government over their brutal enforcement of the one-child policy, under which women are routinely forced to abort their children.
Reggie Littlejohn, a human rights activist who fought for years for the release of Chen, told LifeSiteNews today that she “applauds” GQ for it’s decision to honor Chen. However, she said that rather than a “rebel,” she views Chen as “one who sacrificed everything to hold the Chinese Communist Party to adhere to the rule of law. It is the Communist party that is rebelling against international standards of human rights and against basic standards of human decency.”
But Littlejohn also said that she appreciates “that unlike other media sources, GQ did not shy away from stating the issue for which Chen suffered: late-term forced abortion and sterilization in China—which are state sponsored violence against women.”
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Chen, already a hero to the pro-life movement in North America, leapt into the public consciousness of the whole world when he made a daring escape from house arrest in late April. He took refuge at the U.S. embassy, sparking a massive diplomatic crisis just days before U.S. Secretary of State Hilary was set to visit China on state business. Chen had spent a year and a half in house arrest after being released from four years in prison, during which he was regularly and brutally beaten, all for the crime of offering legal help to women forced to abort.
Chen’s escape has been described as James-Bond-like for its drama and daringness - except that Chen one-upped the fictional 007 by pulling off the escape despite being completely blind.
GQ describes Chen’s time under house arrest, and his escape:
Guards routinely stole into Chen Guangcheng’s house, wrapped him in a blanket, beat him bloody, broke his wife’s bones. The blanket seemed especially gratuitous: Chen is blind. This went on for a year and a half, all because the self-taught lawyer had sued the Chinese government to stop forced abortions in his village. So one dark April night, he left it all behind. He scrambled over the wall of his courtyard, shattering his foot in the fall. Still, he eluded over sixty thugs patrolling his town by hiding in the rank filth of a pigsty. He alerted a team of sympathizers collaborators with coded messages from a smuggled cell phone; they picked him up and began the long drive to Beijing, where Chen shuttled among apartments, never spending two nights in the same place.
After a car chase—a car chase—he wound up at the American embassy, and found himself at the center of a swirling diplomatic drama. An embarrassed China wanted Chen back. A cautious U.S. wanted to play hero without affronting the Chinese. Chen wanted to stay until he didn’t, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to step in and broker a deal to get him out of the country. “From the moment I climbed on the plane, I had this feeling—it’s hard to articulate clearly, but it was sorrowful,” Chen says now. “Of course I want to go back. I will inevitably return to China, standing tall. I don’t think China can continue like this forever.”