Chinese authorities on high alert as prominent dissident escapes house arrest

Wearing his signature sunglasses, the prominent blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has posted an online video statement telling Premier Wen Jiabao he escaped his house arrest and has issued three demands: that the government investigate beatings inflicted upon him and his family members by local officials in Dongshigu; that it look into allegations of corruption by local officials; and that it guarantees the safety of his wife and daughter, who were locked up in house arrest with him.

From the BBC:

His whereabouts are unclear, but supporters say he is safe in Beijing. Unconfirmed reports say Mr Chen may have taken refuge in a diplomatic mission. Mr Chen, 40, had been under house arrest since he was released from a four-year jail sentence in 2010.

Chen, known as the “barefoot lawyer,” has denounced human rights abuses, including accusations that officials in Shandong province forced 7,000 women into abortions or sterilisations. Several members of his family, including cousins and distant relatives, have been placed under house arrest for Chen’s actions.

His fleeing has put Chinese authorities are on high alert.

From The Guardian:

According to the US-based group China Aid, Chen was “100% safe” in Beijing. But the group said that the activist He Peirong, one of the people who helped Chen flee, was arrested at her home in Nanjing on Friday morning.


If Chen is caught, he faces the risk of severe extra-legal punishment from his guards. Several people close to Chen have already been rounded up, prompting fears of retribution.

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