By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by BosNewsLife´s Stefan J. Bos
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– A blind activist who became a symbol of the fight more religious and political rights in China has fled to the United States embassy in Beijing after escaping from house arrest, but others close to him have been detained, Christian rights activists told BosNewsLife Saturday, April 28.
Chen Guangcheng escaped earlier this week from his home where he had been held “under harsh and violent house arrest conditions since his September 2010 release from prison,” said China Aid Association (CAA) in a statement.
He is “100 percent safe in Beijing,” CAA added. CAA’s founder and former Chinese house church pastor Bob Fu told BosNewsLife he had been in touch with Chen’s friends and family and was “told by a source who brought Chen to Beijing that he is not in any danger and is 100 percent safe.”
Fu added that CAA was asked to convey to the outside world that Chen’s intention is to “fight to the end for the freedom” of his family inside China. “I want to live a normal life as a Chinese citizen with my family,” he reportedly said.
However there was concern Saturday, April 28, over the whereabouts of one of his friends who reportedly helped drive Chen on April 22 from his home in Dongshigu village in Shandong province to a safe location in another province.
“He Peirong was in communication with CAA when she was detained arrested at her home in Nanjing, of coastal Jiangsu province” Friday morning, April 28, local time.
She has not responded to later efforts to reach her, rights activists said. Additionally, CAA, said, police also took into custody Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, and his nephew Chen Kegui.
“The father and son were taken from their home early Friday morning. Chen Kegui reportedly had stabbed some government officials who broke into his home early in the morning by climbing over the back wall and Chen, mistaking them for burglars, attacked them,” CAA added in a statement.
“We must report the true fact of this case and not let the Chinese propaganda machine spin this story as they see fit,” said Fu. “We will stand with Chen and work with the international community and world media to fight for his freedom.”
CAA said it has briefed the U.S. State Department and congressional and White House officials about Chen’s situation and has also worked with international news media to publish Chen’s story.
Chen, a self-schooled legal advocate who campaigned against forced abortions, had been held under extra-legal confinement in his village home in Linyi in eastern Shandong province since September 2010 when he was released from jail.
His confinement under relentless surveillance with his family fanned protests by Chinese sympathizers and criticism from foreign governments and groups.
Chen’s escape and the furor it has unleashed could add to the headaches of China’s ruling Communist Party, which is striving to ensure stability and authority before a leadership transition later this year, Reuters news agency commented.
It reportedly also threatens to overshadow a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who were due in Beijing next week for the annual “strategic and economic dialogue” between the two countries.
“We admire Chen’s extraordinary courage and his unwavering desire to fight for the fundamental rights owed every Chinese citizen,” Fu said.
“We urge the U.S. government and other democratic nations to show the courage of their convictions and protect this brave rights defender.”