Chinese Activist Decries “Lawless” Nature of China

Posted May 30th, 2012 at 1:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has written an opinion essay in The New York Times that calls on the Chinese government to investigate alleged mistreatment of his family and other dissidents.

The self-trained lawyer who sought U.S. diplomatic protection after fleeing house arrest earlier this month said in the op-ed Wednesday that lawlessness is the “fundamental question” Beijing must address.

Chen, who is now in the U.S. with his wife and children, said China does not lack laws, but rather the rule of law. He says his story is a prime example of this, noting officials handling his case were able to “openly flout the nation's laws for many years.”

The 40-year-old Chen was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 after exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control. After his release from prison, he was placed under illegal confinement at his home.

Chen's essay said – that if implemented – China's existing criminal laws would offer “significant protection” against abuses such as arbitrary detention, arrest and prosecution. But he said the procedures meant to ensure police follow these laws have proved inadequate.

He also brought up the plight of his nephew, Chen Kegui, who was charged with attempted murder following a clash with officials who burst into his home after discovering that his uncle had escaped.

Chen called the charges against his nephew “absurd,” saying he was protecting himself against a “furious pack of thugs” who “brutally assaulted” his family. He said it is likely that Kegui has been tortured and complained that his nephew is being forced to accept government-appointed lawyers for his defense.

Chen expressed hope that Chinese government officials will follow through on their promise to investigate the “lawless punishment” inflicted on his family over the past seven years. But he noted that it has often failed to fulfill similar commitments.

The human rights activist spent six days at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after escaping his home in Dongshigu village in early May, sparking a diplomatic standoff between Washington and Beijing.

He left the embassy after agreeing to a deal reached by U.S. and Chinese authorities that would allow him to stay in a “safe” place in China. But he changed his mind after leaving U.S. protection, saying he did not feel safe and asked to go to the United States.

Chen and his wife and children arrived May 19 in the U.S., where he plans to study law at New York University.