The Great Escape


Relatives of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speak out

From sleeping in pigsties to sneaking past sleeping guards, new accounts emerging are making the tale of Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest more and more astonishing.

Just how did the blind Chen manage to evade dozens of guards stationed in rings around his home and village of Dongshigu?

This part of the story has remained murky. But now a reporter from iSun Affairs, an online magazine from Hong Kong, is the first to have managed to slip into Chen's still heavily guarded village and speak to the relatives and neighbours who helped him flee.

The account they give is incredible. It's worth me giving you a flavour of it.

With the help of his wife, Chen, it is said, first climbed over the walls of his house during the day of 20 April. When he landed on the other side he broke his foot.

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How the Communist Party deals with those who defied it and remain in the village will be the true test of China's commitment to the rule of law”

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Quickly he crept into a neighbour's pigsty. The magazine says he'd already planned to use it as hiding place. He stayed there until everything went quiet, and he believed it must be late at night.

In the darkness his blindness gave him an advantage over his guards. He felt his way to the Meng river running through his village, stumbling and falling, hundreds of times. He tried to cross the river but couldn't because it was too large.

So, Chen told neighbours, he simply walked across the bridge. There were guards stationed there. He couldn't believe they didn't stop him, but thinks they must have been asleep.

At 0500 he walked, covered in mud, into the next village of Xishigu. A villager found him and took him to the house of Liu Yuancheng. Chen and Liu had, it is said, become friends, after Liu was beaten by family planning officials several years before and Chen had defended his case.

Liu, the magazine says, was astonished to see Chen had escaped, and hid him. He contacted Chen's brother and sister-in-law, Chen Guangfu and Ren Zongju, who apparently didn't believe the news at first.

By the magazine's account, Chen's relatives and a neighbour called Chen Hua then contacted supporters in Beijing, and drove Chen to meet them in the city of Xintai. From there he was spirited to Beijing.

Relatives warned

It makes sense that Chen had help escaping. Real names have been used as the police have already established who assisted Chen. Several seem to have been targeted for retribution.

Chen's brother Chen Guangfu gave the iSun Affairs reporter a detailed account of the two days and three nights of the torture he says local officials inflicted on him. You can see his claims in our story, and here's a detailed account which makes grim reading.

The fate of all of the relatives and friends who helped Chen is now a real concern. Their crime, let's remember, was to help a blind man who was being illegally confined in his own home to break free.

Already, after speaking about his torture, Chen Guangfu has, according to one lawyer, been warned by local authorities that his family may not be treated leniently.

Chen Guangcheng, his wife and two children, now in Beijing, seem to be moving closer towards getting passports to leave China.

But how the Communist Party deals with those who defied it and remain in the village will be the true test of China's commitment to the rule of law, fairness and justice.

Damian Grammaticas Article written by Damian Grammaticas Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    @37.1world1dreamorisit At least we have due process of law, admittedly not perfect but much better than in China.

    37, reading your post, only makes laugh, sorry, I won't mock. This so-called news is not about comparing china with your country, you are derailing. China maybe is not wonderful to you who's never been there or to Chen who wined hard to let China let it go for the safe place US where gun shots happens any time. At least, woman can walk around at night without being attacked or stabbed or shot in China, their children won't be burdened with huge debts after university graduates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Oranges, in UK I've been dragged off to police station and harassed for 3 hours over the fact I was taking pictures in central London area... My faults were a) I was using a "high-tech" camera - what ever that is b) I refused to ease photos - it was a film(!) camera, and I explained thus to the bobby. In China, were I lived for good 5 years, whenever the ones in authority wanted to stop me from taking pictures, a smiling and polite person would ask me to stop doing what I was doing. No yelling, no pushing, no threats to smash my camera (unlike in UK). I felt positively oppressed in China, yes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    People seem to believe that criticising the Chinese government is the same as criticising the Chinese people - the people of China are great, the government is slowly getting better but is still deeply repressive - yes, much more than the US and UK where laws protect dissidents rather than persecute them. I suggest anyone who believes otherwise goes to each country and insult its rulers in public, see which one arrests them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Both ChinaAid & China Digital Times have been leading propaganda re Chen Guangcheng - part of West's strategy of undermining Chinese Govt by disingenuously leveraging "human rights" issues, even as west serially violates & supports violation of human rights around the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, Syria etc.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    ChinaAid is chief source of info about Chen. BUT ChinaAid is US-based: funded by US State Department through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED, 2011: Chen Guangcheng was a recipient in absentia of NED‘s 2008 Democracy Award. ChinaAid & China Digitial Times are NED grantees.
    Pinch of salt, please.


Comments 5 of 47



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