By Peter J. Smith

BEIJING, June 22, 2007 ( – Prisoners severely beat and kicked a blind human rights activist who exposed coerced sterilizations and abortions by local officials.

Amnesty International reports that Chen Guangcheng was beaten by six fellow inmates at the behest of his jailers for insisting on his right to appeal his sentence and refusing to have his head shaved. Chen was sentenced in August 2006 to four years in prison for farcical charges of damaging property and disrupting traffic. (

Chen’s run-in with the government began after he filed an unprecedented class-action lawsuit against Linyi City health officials. The suit attacked officials for their inhuman treatment of women and their unborn children in the Shangdong province in what Chen viewed as violations in enforcing the “one-child-policy.” Although Beijing’s official policy now prohibits forced sterilizations and abortions, local government officials continue to apply the brutal methods to fulfill population control quotas mandated by Beijing.

While attempting to deliver the lawsuit in Beijing, the blind activist was seized by police and forcibly returned to Linyi City. There he was placed under house arrest until being sentenced to prison after highly irregular court proceedings last August. (

“He has since begun a hunger strike in protest, refusing water as well as food,” Amnesty said and warned that Chen faces further violence and torture. The organization praised Chen calling him a “prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for his peaceful defense of human rights.”

“The Chinese authorities must stop the persecution of people who stand up for human rights; as the Olympic Games draw closer, the world will be watching to see whether human rights promises have been honoured. At present they have not.”

See related coverage:

Blind Chinese Anti-Forced Abortion Activist Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison

Infanticide, Forced Abortions and Sterilizations in China’s Linyi Province

US Condemns Beijing for Farcical Trial of Blind Activist Who Exposed Forced Abortion