Family of Chen Guangcheng receives death threats, house pelted with stones and bricks
LINYI, Shandong, China, April 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In apparent retaliation for the testimony of blind human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng at a U.S. Congressional hearing two weeks ago, authorities in his home province of Shandong have begun terrorizing two of his brothers and a sister-in-law.
Chen Guangcheng spent more than four years in prison in China for exposing the brutal methods that China uses to enforce its one-child policy. He made a daring escape from house arrest last April, before seeking shelter in the U.S. embassy, and eventually making his way to safety in the United States with his wife and children.
However, he has continued to express fears that his relatives and supporters still remaining in China will be subject to reprisals, despite promises from the Chinese government that they will be unmolested. Now it appears that those fears are being realized.
According to reports, this past Sunday (April 21), at about 1 a.m., a hail of stones, bricks and roof tiles rained down on the home of Chen Guangfu, Chen Guangcheng's eldest brother. The assault continued for about a half-hour, resulting in damage to his house. A dead duck and a stack of paper money used as burnt offerings for the dead were also placed outside the front gate. According to local custom, this is meant to be a death threat. Chen Guangfu has reported the incident to the police, but with no result to date.
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The human rights group ChinaAid says it has also learned that "small character posters" started showing up around the village last Friday (April 19) that were full of insulting attacks on Chen Guangcheng and Chen Guangfu. On Monday (April 22), 20 saplings that Chen Guangfu had planted were uprooted. Wednesday (April 24) at 2:31 a.m., Chen Guangfu's home was again attacked with stones and beer bottles.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Chen Guangfu's wife, Ren Zongju, was taken to the local police station for questioning, and was allowed to return home at about 4:30 p.m. She was told that her "harboring a criminal" case had entered the investigation and prosecution stage and that she could hire a lawyer.
The charge of "harboring a criminal" is related to an incident involving Ren’s son, Chen Kegui, who defended himself with a kitchen knife last April when a group of officials burst into his house in the middle of the night looking for Chen Guangcheng after his escape.
According to Chen Guangcheng, these officials did not sustain any major injuries. According to Chen Guangcheng, they subjected his nephew and sister-in-law to a vicious beating, and ransacked their home. Kegui was subsequently charged with attempted murder. He was later convicted of “intentional injury” and sentenced to three years and three months in prison.
Also on Wednesday, Chen Guangcheng's younger brother, Chen Guangjun, who was working in Linyi, reportedly received a call from the procuratorate's office, telling him to report to the Yinan County Procuratorate, which he did, but since it was already 6 p.m. when he arrived, the Procutorate was closed for the day.
"These shocking developments are nothing but political retaliation for Chen Guangcheng's escape to freedom last year," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu. "These horrific threats clearly bear the hallmark of the Chinese government that orchestrated the persecution against Chen and his family members over the past seven years."
"The Chinese government is totally disregarding the high-level U.S.-China diplomatic agreement reached last May before Mr. Chen and his family were allowed to come to the United States. It is time for President Obama and Secretary Kerry to hold the Chinese top leaders account," Fu said.
This recent escalation followed Chen's Congressional testimony two weeks ago, during which he charged the Chinese authorities with violating the promise made to U.S. negotiators that Chen's extended family would not be harmed once Chen, his wife and their two children had left for the United States.
“We condemn the persecution of the relatives of Chen Guangcheng by Chinese Communist thugs,” said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a human rights group that worked for years to secure the safety of Chen Guangcheng.
“This harassment is clearly designed to silence him as one of the leading voices in the world to expose the brutality of this regime,” she said. “We urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the harassment of Chen Guangcheng’s relatives in Dongshigu Village. We call upon President Obama and Secretary Kerry to urgently intervene on behalf of Chen Guangcheng’s relatives in China.”
Earlier this week, Littlejohn, along with Rep. Chris Smith, attempted to deliver 200,000 signatures on a petition demanding that China end forced abortions and gendercide to the Chinese embassy in Washington. However, despite repeated attempts to gain access to the embassy, they were unsuccessful, with embassy officials ignoring their ringing at the door.