By Kathleen Gilbert

BEIJING, September 10, 2010 ( – Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese lawyer who has withstood abuse and imprisonment after drawing attention to his country’s coercive one-child policy, has been freed from prison – but has not escaped from the government’s iron fist.

Chinese officials have installed surveillance equipment around the home and village of Guangcheng, who published stories of women’s forced abortions and sterilizations at the hands of the government. As a consequence he was imprisoned for four years and three months on charges of “willfully damaging property” and “organizing a mob to disturb traffic.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that Guangcheng’s wife, who had spoken of her husband’s impending release Wednesday, could no longer be reached as the family’s telephones had been shut off, according to relatives. Plainclothes police scuffled with and chased off Associated Press reporters who attempted to enter Chen’s village Thursday.

Neighbors, declining to be identified or associated with Chen for fear of retribution from the government, told the Post that the activist was witnessed being brought home early in the morning by plainclothes officials.

A family friend told the Post that Chen’s health had been seriously damaged by his stay in prison, where he endured beatings from other prisoners and suffered chronically severe diarrhea, and that he had wept when he was reunited with his family.

Lawyer Xu Zhiyong told the news service that he hoped Chen’s spirit was not broken by the experience. “He did so much good for the villagers. I hope he will be able to adhere to those original principles and beliefs he had,” he said. Xu was among several lawyers who had tried to help defend Chen in his 2006 trial, but were kidnapped by police before the end of the trial.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a longtime critic of China’s coercive population control techniques, called Guangcheng’s release “good news but only a step in the right direction.”

“The fact that Chen remains under house arrest, imprisoned in his own home, and is reportedly in need of urgent medical attention, must not be ignored,” said Smith, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in a press release Friday. “I appeal to the Chinese government to let Chen move about freely and ensure that he has access to the care he needs.”

Smith also decried the government’s abusive treatment of Chen, saying it “corresponds to the continuing violence of the one-child policy” Chen risked a great deal to expose, and urged President Obama to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) “until it ends its shameless complicity with China’s abusive population control program.”

Despite an on-the-ground investigation last year that confirmed UNFPA’s complicity in China’s coercive policies, the Obama administration resumed U.S. funding for the organization shortly after taking office and without commenting on the unanimous conclusion of guilt from private and federal investigative reports.

To contact the Embassy of China in the U.S.:
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Email: [email protected]
Tel: (202) 495-2266
Cell: (202) 669-8024
Fax: (202) 495-2138

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Obama Promises to Fund Coercive China One-Child Policy Collaborator UNFPA

UNPFA Loses $235 Million Due to Pro-Life Group’s Efforts

UNFPA Supports Coercive Family Planning-Including Forced Abortion-in China