Authorities Use Threats, Abuse, and Harassment To Maintain Control Over Chen Kegui and Family

March 28, 2013

March 2013 reports indicate that Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, continues to face threats and abuse at the hands of officials while he serves time in prison. Reports indicate that his parents, wife, and young son also remain subject to surveillance and official harassment as they go about their daily lives. On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury," after he clashed with plainclothes security personnel during an unannounced raid on his home in the middle of the night. Chen argued that he acted in self-defense, a position supported by several Chinese and international lawyers and rights advocates.

Prison Officials Threaten Chen Kegui and Subject Him to Physical Abuse

According to a March 14, 2013, New York Times (NYT) report, authorities permitted Chen Guangfu to visit with his son Chen Kegui in prison on February 28, 2013. This was only the second prison visit allowed for Chen Kegui after a 9-month period of isolation from the outside world (Amnesty International, 8 February 13). According to the NYT article, during the February 28 meeting, Chen Kegui told his father that guards had beaten and threatened him before the trial, and that officials did not tell him that his family had retained a lawyer to represent him. He also told his father that after the trial, prison officials had warned him not to appeal his sentence, and threatened that if he did, he would face a life sentence. In addition, Chen Kegui claimed that officials had threatened harm to his parents and child if he were to "disobey." The conversation between father and son reportedly was under the close watch of prison guards, and it was "clear that there [were] other things [he was] holding back from saying," Chen Guangfu's brother Chen Guangcheng told the NYT.

According to Radio Free Asia (5 March 13), while Chen Guangcheng was speaking at a March 5 event in Washington DC, he noted that he had spoken with Chen Guangfu following his visit to Chen Kegui in prison. Chen Guangcheng expressed serious concern that his nephew has endured "torture" while in custody, namely deprivation of sleep and food. He implicated the local public security bureau's Communist Party Secretary in the aforementioned warnings and threats against Chen Kegui and his family, and he also noted that Chen Kegui had lost over 22 pounds since his detention.

Officials Continue Monitoring and Harassment of the Family

The rest of the Chen family reportedly continues to face official harassment as they go about their daily lives in Dongshigu village, outside of Linyi. Chen Guangfu reported to NYT that the village remains under constant surveillance, including teams of guards who still stand watch at the village entrance. He also noted that he had recently been followed, and "in what he took to be an intimidating gesture," a family planning official visited a local school in search of Chen Kegui's five-year-old son (NYT, 14 March 13). Human Rights First (HRF) reported that the director of the child's school called Chen Guangfu "quite upset and worried" after "unidentified government officials" visited the school looking for the child (HRF, 13 March 13).

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.