(LifeSiteNews) — It was after Chinese Communist Party “thugs” beat Chen Guangcheng’s wife “mercilessly” that “I decided we had to find a way to escape,” the high-profile human rights lawyer told LifeSiteNews.
“A week before I was let out of jail, the Communist party had made my village into a prison,” he explained. “So when I got home, there were 70 or 80 guards around the village, watching us and not letting us go anywhere.”
A crew of “revolving guards” lived “inside our yard and in our home,” watching them, Chen recounted. “And they would curse us and abuse us.”
Meanwhile there were “seven high-powered lights around my home” and surveillance cameras placed around the village. And the CCP put up cell phone jammers so “we couldn’t call out or communicate with anybody.”
“We tried many times to escape and each time was unsuccessful until April 20 of 2012,” said Chen. At a moment when the guards had their attention elsewhere, “I made it to the stairway at the edge of our yard to the wall and went over the wall.”
His harrowing escape meant scaling eight walls and passing nine “rings” of CCP guards set up around the village.
“I went over fields, through a wood area, I crossed a river until I made it to a neighboring village,” said Chen, who is blind. “And after I went over the fifth wall I was very close to some guards but I’d broken three bones in my foot so after that I essentially had to crawl and it was extremely difficult.”
“When I got to the seventh wall — my experience had been that there wasn’t a wall there.”
He had no choice but to take the wall down stone by stone: “Standing on one foot, I very, very carefully took each stone down and put it very gently on the ground so it wouldn’t make any sound because there was a guard close by.”
When Chen finally made it to a neighboring village, “My knees and elbows were completely bloody and I was soaking from the rain. And I just looked horrible.” Someone to whom he’d previously given legal help related to China’s brutal One-Child Policy sheltered him and got in touch with his family. Eventually Chen was able to make his way to Beijing and get in touch with the American embassy there.
“The Chinese Communist Party found out about it and they sent four spy cars to follow us. We had two hours of a chase in the embassy cars being followed by these Chinese operatives. And finally we made it to the embassy.”
The United States government and the Chinese government then engaged in “intense” negotiations. “By the end of it, the Chinese Communist Party had no choice but to let me and my family come to this free land, to America.”
“I am so grateful to America, the American people, for taking us in,” Chen emphasized. “And I will do whatever I can to make this an even better place.”
Chen detailed his escape in his 2016 book The Barefoot Lawyer: The Remarkable Memoir of China’s Bravest Political Activist and in 2020 spoke at the Republican National Convention (RNC), praising then-President Trump for standing up to China. During that speech the high-profile activist also expressed his gratitude “to the American people for welcoming me and my family to the United States where we are now free.”
Chen’s long resumé includes his time as a scholar at New York University from 2012 to 2013 and his current work as a Visiting Fellow at the Catholic University of America, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
CCP ‘disappears,’ tortures dissident lawyers and activists
Chen drew attention to the plight of two of his fellow Chinese dissidents, imploring the world to take notice.
Fellow lawyer Gao Zhisheng “started to speak up about injustices in society” in 2005, around the same time Chen became involved in human rights advocacy (and drew the ire of the CCP). “He was active in my case as well when I was in detention and in jail,” said Chen.
Gao was then put in a “secret detention facility. He was tortured while he was being detained … he was put in prison for three years.”
“He has now been disappeared for over four years. Nobody knows where he is. Nobody knows if he’s alive or dead.”
Zhang Zhan lost her license to practice law after she advocated the head of the Chinese Association of Lawyers be elected democratically by its members rather than chosen by communist officials. So she became a citizen journalist, heading to Wuhan “when the pandemic broke out … to see what the situation was like under lockdown and how many people had died from the pandemic.”
She also began investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology, trying to “understand the origins of the virus [and] how it had gotten out into society.”
The CCP hauled Zhang back to Shanghai. She was detained on May 14, 2021, said Chen, and has been on a hunger strike ever since.
“She is 1.7 meters and now weighs about 40 kilograms,” he explained. “So she’s lost a lot of weight and her situation is extremely critical. Her family’s not allowed to visit her … reports are that her situation is very dire. She can’t lift her head up by herself.”
Every day, she’s force-fed through her nose while handcuffed.
It is essential that the origins of the coronavirus are investigated, said Chen.
“The Chinese Communist Party will crack down severely on anybody who tries to investigate the virus and tries tell the rest of the world about this. And I hope that people will speak out about Zhang Zhan and will know more about her.”
“I hope that the rest of the world will insist on investigating the origins of the virus,” he said. “And the CCP should be held responsible for their role in this.”