Authorities Deny Chen Kegui Urgent Medical Treatment and Medical Parole; Harassment and Intimidation of Family Continues

May 2, 2013

According to April 2013 reports, authorities notified the family of Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, that he is suffering from acute appendicitis while in prison. Prison officials reportedly denied his family's appeal to release Chen Kegui on medical parole and refused to transfer him to a hospital, claiming they will make their own arrangements for his treatment. Meanwhile, the family reports that they have received "serious threats" against their safety while at home in Dongshigu village, Linyi city, Shandong province.

Chen Kegui Denied Appropriate Medical Treatment, Medical Parole

According to BBC (30 April 13), Chen Kegui, who is currently serving a three year, three month criminal sentence in Linyi prison on charges which legal experts refute, was diagnosed with appendicitis on April 24, 2013. On April 29, prison authorities notified Chen's father Chen Guangfu, that his appendicitis had become acute, according to the report. Chen Guangfu told BBC that he applied for medical parole for his son, but that the prison refused to accept their application. Medical personnel at the prison reportedly told Chen Guangfu that they are treating Chen Kegui's appendicitis with antibiotics and that the infection has caused a cyst (Associated Press, via Washington Post, 29 April 13). Chen Guangfu expressed further concern in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) on April 30 that his son's appendix could burst—which would be life-threatening—and that he should be transferred to a hospital for treatment (AFP, via Global Post, 30 April 13). According to an April 30 Guardian report, Chen Guangfu saw Chen Kegui on April 25 for a regular monthly visit, but when he attempted to visit again on April 29, the prison refused to grant him access.

Jared Genser, founder of advocacy organization Freedom Now and international pro bono counsel for several Chinese prisoners of conscience including Chen Kegui, appealed in writing to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on April 29, urging immediate action on behalf of Chen Kegui and his family. In the letter, Genser expressed concern that, "the denial of adequate medical treatment in this case presents an urgent threat to [Chen Kegui's] wellbeing" (Freedom Now, 29 April 13).

Harassment of Chen Family Increases

Reports indicate that Chen Kegui's family members have learned of his deteriorated medical condition during a time when they were already facing heightened surveillance, harassment, and intimidation at home in Dongshigu village. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) (21 April 13; English translation via ChinaAid, 23 April 13), on April 18, officials in Dongshigu village reportedly beat a Beijing artist and three others who were visiting the former home of Chen Guangcheng. On that evening and for at least 12 nights since, security personnel have attacked Chen Guangfu's home with rocks, beer bottles, and dead poultry, according to Chen Guangfu and Chen Guangcheng (South China Morning Post, 1 May 13 (subscription required)). According to the CHRD report, unidentified people have also placed fake money at the gate of Chen Guangfu's home. CHRD notes that dead birds and fake money are used as serious curses or death threats according to local custom. Also according to CHRD, on April 19, "character posters" were posted throughout the village, slandering and threatening Chen Guangfu and his family. According to the New York Times (24 April 13), on April 24, Yinan county prosecutors summoned Chen Guangfu's wife, Ren Zongju, and his brother, Chen Guangjun, for questioning on allegations that they had harbored a criminal when they helped Chen Kegui prior to his arrest. According to Radio Free Asia (29 April 13), authorities dropped the charges after Chen Guangfu discussed the case with overseas journalists and after Beijing-based rights defense lawyers Li Fangping and Zhang Jianqin, whom the family had hired, arrived in Linyi to defend Ren Zongju and Chen Guangjun. These incidents follow other recent threats, abuse, and harassment, which officials have used to maintain control over Chen Kegui and his family.

Background on Chen Kegui

On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, tried and sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury." The charges were in connection to Chen Kegui's wielding of knives during a midnight raid on his home by local officials in April 2012 following the escape of his uncle Chen Guangcheng from illegal home confinement. According to supporters, Chen Kegui's case has been marred by procedural violations since authorities detained him in May 2012.

The CECC chairmen issued a statement regarding Chen Kegui's trial and sentencing on November 30, 2012, specifically raising concerns about Chen's condition in prison, calling on authorities to guarantee his safety and protect his rights, and urging the Chinese government to fulfill its promises to investigate abuses against Chen Guangcheng and his family.

Previous coverage on Chen Kegui's case as well as previous coverage on Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy.