Relatives and Supporters of Chen Guangcheng Harassed, Beaten, Detained

May 10, 2012

Following his escape from illegal home confinement on April 22, 2012, legal advocate Chen Guangcheng sought safety in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for six days while U.S. and Chinese officials negotiated a deal for his and his family's freedom (New York Times, 2 May 12). Chen left the U.S. embassy under U.S. official escort on May 2 to receive medical treatment at a nearby hospital for injuries sustained during his escape as well as for an ongoing gastrointestinal illness (Foreign Policy, 7 May 12).

During his confinement at the hospital, Chen reported that he would like to travel to the United States with his family to rest (Washington Post, 3 May 12), and he later reported that Chinese officials are assisting in his plans to do so (NYT, 8 May 12). As he waits for a passport and other paperwork needed to leave the country and pursue a fellowship offered to him by the New York University School of Law, Chen has repeatedly raised concerns about official retaliation against his relatives in Shandong province. (See, for example, WP, 3 May 12; NYT 8 May 12; AP, via WP, 10 May 12; and Reuters, 10 May 12.)

Status of Chen Guangcheng's Relatives

The Commission continues to closely monitor developments on the treatment and whereabouts of Chen Guangcheng's relatives. The following list is updated as of May 10, 2012:

  • Yuan Weijing. Chen Guangcheng's wife. Currently with Chen Guangcheng at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing. Yuan reportedly faces restrictions on freedom of movement and has had to "pass security checks before being allowed out to buy food for the family" (RFA, 8 May 12).
  • Chen Kerui and Chen Kesi. Chen Guangcheng's eleven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Currently with Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing (RFA, 8 May 12).
  • Wang Jinxiang. Chen Guangcheng's 78-year-old mother. Chen reported that she remained confined in his home in Shandong province, and that she suffers from ill health (Metro Nieuws, 9 May 12). Chen and Yuan have expressed concerns about leaving her behind (Daily Beast, 8 May 12).
  • Chen Guangfu. Chen Guangcheng's older brother. Authorities detained Chen Guangfu on April 26 following a clash with police in his home (CHRD, 1 May 12). Authorities released him on May 7 (VOA, translated by China Aid Association, 7 May 12). Chen Guangfu reportedly remains under close police surveillance and is forbidden to leave his village or make any phone calls (RFA, 8 May 12).
  • Chen Kegui. Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Guangfu's son. Chen Guangcheng has continued to raise specific concerns about the situation of Chen Kegui, who is allegedly facing charges of "intentional homicide." Chen Kegui reportedly clashed with officials when they invaded his home after discovering Chen Guangcheng had escaped. A lawyer who volunteered to defend Chen Kegui reported that at least one official was injured during the confrontation, but no one was killed (AP, via CBS, 10 May 12). Chen Kegui is currently held at the Yinan County Detention Center in Shandong province where he has reportedly been beaten (RFA, 8 May 12).
  • Ren Zongju. Cheng Guangcheng's sister-in-law, Cheng Guangfu's wife, and Chen Kegui's mother. Ren was reportedly detained and then released pending trial on charges of "harboring a criminal," Chen Kegui (RFA, 8 May 12).
  • Liu Fang. Chen Guangcheng's niece-in-law, Chen Kegui's wife. Chen reported that officials had taken Liu into custody after she attempted to hire a lawyer (RFA, 8 May 12). Chen later reported to Voice of America, however, that Liu was missing and that officials were searching for her to get her signature (VOA, in Chinese, 9 May 12). Information on Liu's current whereabouts appears to be unavailable.
  • Chen Guangcun. Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Officials reportedly took Chen Guangcun and his son into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 1 May 12).
  • Chen Hua. Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Chen Guangcun's son. Officials reportedly took Chen Hua and his father into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (CHRD, 1 May 12).

Status of Chen Guangcheng's Supporters

Many who have supported Chen Guangcheng during and after his escape from illegal home confinement have faced official harassment and detention in connection with these efforts. The Commission continues to closely monitor developments on the treatment and whereabouts of these persons as well. The following list is updated as of May 10, 2012:

  • He Peirong. Nanjing-based human rights advocate. Played a key role in transporting Chen Guangcheng from Shandong province to Beijing following his escape. State security personnel reportedly took He from her home in Nanjing "to assist with investigations" (Reuters, 7 May 12). She was interrogated in a hotel for seven days and has now returned home, where she is "allowed to move about freely" (NYT, 8 May 12). On May 10, He posted on her Twitter account that she is not accepting interviews with the media (Twitter, 10 May 12).
  • Guo Yushan. Beijing-based scholar and human rights advocate. Authorities initially detained him for 50 hours following Chen's escape and released him on April 30 (LA Times, 1 May 12). A French journalist posted on Twitter on May 1 that he had spoken with Guo, who stated he was not allowed to grant interviews to foreign journalists (Twitter, 1 May 12). Guo reportedly has remained in contact with Chen following his release (WP, 3 May 12).
  • Jiang Tianyong. Beijing-based lawyer. Authorities reportedly ordered Jiang to leave Beijing on May 8 and instructed him to notify the police prior to his return. Jiang had previously reported that security personnel beat him after he attempted to visit Chen at the hospital, damaging his hearing. Authorities permitted him to seek medical treatment on May 7 for the injuries he sustained during the beating. The doctor that examined Jiang, however, reportedly refused to record the injury (NYT, 8 May 12).
  • Hu Jia. Beijing-based human rights advocate. Authorities detained Hu Jia on April 27 and held him for 24 hours for questioning regarding Chen Guangcheng's escape (LA Times, 1 May 12). Hu Jia has not posted on his Twitter account since April 30. The Commission has not observed additional news reports on his present situation.
  • Zeng Jinyan. Beijing-based human rights advocate, wife of Hu Jia. Zeng stated in a May 2 post on her Twitter account that state security guards were following her when taking her daughter to school and that she was being placed under house arrest (Twitter, 2 May 12). Zeng has subsequently posted that security personnel continue to prevent her from leaving her home, and that authorities continue to deny her requests to pursue a master's degree at a Hong Kong university (Twitter, 4 May 12, 5 May 12, 8 May 12; Daily Beast 8 May 12). Zeng Jinyan's most recent Twitter post indicated that she would be cutting herself off from all technology for ten days (Twitter, 8 May 12).
  • Liu Yanping. Associate of Beijing-based artist and human rights advocate Ai Weiwei. Authorities reportedly detained Liu when she attempted to bring a birthday cake to Chen Guangcheng's son at Chaoyang hospital on May 4. Liu reported on her Twitter account that authorities released her after 9 hours (Twitter, 4 May 12).

As noted above, the Commission has observed various reports of law enforcement authorities continuing to use "soft detention" (ruanjin)—which includes home confinement, surveillance, restricted movement, and limited contact with others—to control and intimidate Chen's family and supporters. These examples of "soft detention" not only contravene Chinese protections, but also constitute arbitrary detention under international human rights standards. According to Article 37 of the PRC Constitution, the "deprivation or restriction of citizen's freedom of the person" is prohibited. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." According to Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), no one should be subjected to arbitrary and extralegal arrests or detentions: "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law." China signed the ICCPR in 1998 and has on multiple occasions expressed its intent to ratify the instrument. Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (list of participants), a state commits a crime of enforced disappearance when its agents arrest, detain, abduct, or otherwise deprive a person of liberty and then deny holding the person or conceal the fate or whereabouts of the person.

The Commission held a hearing on May 3, 2012, to examine recent developments relevant to Chen Guangcheng, his family, and his supporters. For additional information on Chen and China's population planning policy, see Section II-Population Planning in the CECC 2011 Annual Report. For information on Chinese official detention, harassment, and abuse of lawyers, see Section II-Criminal Justice and Section III-Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.