Chen Guangcheng (born 12 November 1971) is a Chinese civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural areas of thePeople's Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a "barefoot lawyer" who advocates women's rights and the welfare of the poor.
“At no point during his time in the embassy did Mr. Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S.,” said the White House press secretary, Jay Carney. “And at every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reforming his country. All of our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.”
The Chen case has rapidly become an issue on the campaign trail, with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, accusing the American diplomats of racing to reach an agreement with China and then failing to verify it.
Chen is not a "dissident" who is agitating for regime change. He is a legal activist who is trying to get the Chinese government to enforce its own laws.
Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident whose dramatic escape from house arrest and eventual flight to the United States captivated global audiences in April, heads to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for talks with top lawmakers including Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
On April 26, the local officials who had abused me and my family for seven years turned their shameless savagery against my brother, Chen Guangfu, and his family.
Chen endured a four-year prison term for his outspoken denunciations of China's "One Child" policy — which critics charge results in forced abortions.
U.S. officials then helped negotiate his exit, to study law at New York University. Fulfillment of this deal Saturday should give Mr. Chen, whose vocal opposition to forced abortions and other abuses of China’s “one-child” policy first attracted the attention of China’s security apparatus in 2005, a measure of calm in which to think about his future.
In 2006, he was given a four-year jail sentence for allegedly damaging public property and organizing an illegal assembly which stopped traffic. On his release from jail, he was put under house arrest, despite the absence of any outstanding charges, and for the next 19 months he was kept a prisoner in his own home, sometimes brutally beaten.
The woman who drove blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to Beijing after his dramatic escape from house arrest told how she sat down with security officers afterwards to watch the jailbreak movie, The Shawshank Redemption.
After escaping from the stone farmhouse where he had lived under house arrest, Chen, on Wednesday, crossed yet another barrier—perhaps the most surprising of all—when he exited the American embassy where he had sought protection.
For nearly two years, I was locked in my farmhouse by lawless thugs, unable to seek medical care and scarcely able to even imagine a day when I could feel the sun on my face again. In the month since my wife, children and I arrived in the United States from China, the extraordinary official surveillance and restrictions imposed on my family members who remain in our home village reportedly have started to abate.
The Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng, blind since childhood, self-taught in the law, defender of women’s rights to resist forced abortion, thorn in the side of local despots in his home district of Linyi in Shandong province, veteran of a four-year prison sentence on the spurious charge of “organizing a mob to disturb traffic,” and since then victim—along with his wife and daughter—of extra-legal house arrest and occasional beatings, has escaped confinement.