Actions are louder than words

Actions are louder than words
July 17th, 2006  

Topic: Actions are louder than words

Actions are louder than words
THE blind activist who exposed how local officials enforced China's one-child policy by making women abort pregnancies at as late as eight months goes on trial today in the latest attempt to silence him.

Chen Guangcheng, a peasant who lost his sight as an infant due to illness and who studied law initially to fight for rights for the disabled, became a hero to oppressed villagers when he exposed the lengths to which officials in his native Shandong province were going to meet population targets.

Chen has been charged with disrupting traffic, gathering a crowd and destroying property following a February protest in his home village, Dongshigu, when several hundred villagers rioted after police assaulted Chen's cousin and neighbour after the man tried to visit his blind relative.

According to Chinese law, it is only permissible to use economic sanctions to encourage adherence to the one-child policy, but in March 2005 officials in the city of Linyi began forcing parents of two children to be sterilised and women pregnant with a third child to undergo abortions.

Relatives of couples who fled were held hostage and often beaten until the couples returned and submitted.

Last September, the central Government investigated and agreed that the civil rights of Linyi citizens had been violated.

Some officials were sacked, and some were detained pending further investigation, but despite this, local authorities have been allowed to detain and harass Chen and his supporters with impunity.

Chen has been under house arrest, abducted, beaten and threatened with death if he does not desist.

His family, villagers and lawyers who have tried to assist or visit him have also been beaten and harassed.

Last week, Chinese civil rights campaigners, in an open letter circulated on the internet and sent to the United Nations, said the treatment of Chen including torturing him while in detention had violated the constitution and those responsible should be brought to justice.

While the central Chinese Government says it is committed to rule by law, it effectively gives local officials considerable leeway to maintain public order as they see fit.

Citizens fighting corruption and other problems usually have to evade the local government crony networks and appeal to higher authorities, but local officials frequently resort to abducting citizens who have travelled to Beijing to report them.

When Chen managed to escape to Beijing, Shandong police arrested him and forced his return.

Last month, his wife, three-year-old son and elderly mother, who had travelled to Beijing to hold a news conference for foreign media, were also arrested.

Four lawsuits already filed by villagers with Chen's help have been postponed by the courts since October last year.

July 17th, 2006  
Rob Henderson
Lets go Che-en Lets go! *boom boom*Lets go Che-en Lets go *boom boom*

Im all for him. Power to the people.

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