Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist escaped from his prison-home on 22 april, reached the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing, where he spoke with Hillary Clinton and is meant to meet his family. But will his incredible story push China towards change and a more human-rights-respectful behaviour? Renee Xia, international director of China Human Rights Defenders answers “The East is read” on tempi.it: «Chen Guangcheng’s escape is a miracle, but it won’t change the regime».
Do you know Chen’s whereabouts?
Yes, the US government has practically confirmed that Chen was in the US Embassy in Beijing. Obama’s top adviser on “anti-terrorism” confirmed on Fox news. Up to now he is in Chaoyang hospital, maybe he will meet there is family.
What about Chen’s relatives?
Chen’s wife, young daughter and ailing mother remain under house arrest, Chen’s brother and his son, Chen’s cousin are reportedly in custody, and the cousin’s son is said to be on the run. Some reports tell Chen’s wife and daughter could meet him today at Chaoyang hospital.
In a 2011 video, Chen told he was controlled by thirty or even more people. How could he escape from his house-prison?
He had been planning for months, pretending to be so sick and bed-ridden, so the guards were not as vigilant. It’s reported that one sympathetic guard may have helped him. And other activists assisted the escape after Chen jumped a wall and walked in the dark for hours. It’s like a miracle!
Everybody knows Chen’s work, he denounced the illegal practice of forced abortion. But why the chinese government fears so much a blind man?
Because a dictatorship government does not respect its own law and has the habit of suppressing anyone who has an independent mind and speaking the truth. Please see our recent report which offers some clues to this important and complicated question.
Do you think premier Wen Jiabao and the communist party are going to listen to Chen’s three requests he made in the video recently published?
I have no confidence in them doing that. They have ignored him, his previous requests or call for help from illegal captivity in the past 19 months! Premier Wen Jiabao talks about his concerns for the poor, the disadvantaged, for rule of law, but he either did nothing with the power he has, or he has no real power to do anything. He is either trying to paint a humane face to the brutal regime, or a victim himself of a brutal and corrupt regime.
You worked tirelessly for Chen’s freedom. What does it mean his escaping for China? Will it change the attitude of the government towards human rights?
We feel elated for Chen’s freedom and remain very concerned about his fate as well as the continuing suffering of this family and the government’s retaliation against his relatives and supporters. We are encouraged that citizens who work creatively can make a difference. We do not have any illusions about this government in changing its abysmal human rights practices due to this event.
Chen’s detention was clearly illegal. Could his escaping push China towards enforcing the rule of law?
Very unlikely. The government will try to save face and it will look for excuses to punish him if he comes out of the US Embassy and it will distort the facts and abuse the law to look for “legal basis” to persecute him and his supporters.
In last weeks, media looked at China quite only for Bo Xilai’s case. Lots said China showed some signals of changing.
No, the Bo Xilai drama was all about high-level power struggle. The top leadership had known all along about Bo and his wife’s corruption. And Mo knows about the other leaders’s dirty laundry. But now he had lost this power struggle, so those who won and control the media are disclosing all the dirt they had collected about him. They might not have done this exposee if Bo’s aid hadn’t gone into the US Consulate, which turned this into an international incident.
Chen is only one among lots of activist still under the persecution of the government.
Yes, there are many, to name a few: Gao Zhisheng, Liu Xia, Liu Xianbin, Chen Wei, Guo Quan, Chen Xi, Ni Yulan. We should keep on fighting for them.