China dissident says family being abused

Chen Guangcheng telephones US Congressional hearing from Beijing hospital to raise concerns about harassment of family.

    Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has accused Beijing of a pattern of abuse against his family as he once again took his case to US legislators.

    Chen, a blind self-taught lawyer who last month dramatically escaped house arrest for the safety of the US embassy, telephoned a hearing of the US Congress for the second time this month from a hospital bed in Beijing.

    Unlike in the previous hearing, Chen did not voice concern over his own conditions. But he charged that local authorities in the eastern province of Shandong were seeking revenge by filing a murder charge against his nephew.


    Chen Guangcheng talks to Al Jazeera

    "These are trumped-up charges. Those people in Yinan county have already been on the opposite side of the rule of law in China," said Chen said as one of his most prominent supporters, Chinese dissident Bob Fu, translated for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Chen said government-backed thugs broke into his nephew Chen Kegui's house and beat him up for three hours with stakes until his face was bloody, with police detaining him when he fought back. Despite the murder charge, no one was reported dead.

    Chen said "this is a pattern," accusing authorities of launching the same sort of campaign against his nephew as they had against him.

    Chen served four years in jail on charges that included disruption of traffic.

    Chen had riled authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations by officials meeting quotas under China's one-child only policy. Chen has said he was subjected to brutal beatings under house arrest because he continued to speak out after his release from jail in 2010.

    Visa ready for family

    Reggie Littlejohn, an activist who testified at the US Congress hearing which Chen contacted earlier, told Al Jazeera: "It was great privilege to be able hear Chen live in the Congressional hearing."

    "He wanted to thank everybody who has helped him try to get his freedom and he also expressed extreme concern about his nephew," she said.

    "I don’t think Chen is hurting his chances of getting into US by communicating with people in the US. To the contrary, I think the visibility that brings will only help him.

    "The concern right now is it is taking so long to get his papers to go to the US. We are worried that there are elements within the Chinese Communist Party who do not want him to go."

    On Capitol Hill, Chen spoke to House Representative Chris Smith, a longtime campaigner against China's one-child policy.

    Chen broke several bones as he climbed walls to escape house arrest, and then undertook a risky journey by car to Beijing, where he sought refuge at the US embassy.

    US officials escorted him to a hospital on May 2, saying that China had made assurances for his safety.

    But Chen telephoned a congressional hearing a day later, saying he feared for the safety of himself and his family. He said he wanted to leave for the US and appealed for a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was visiting Beijing.

    US officials said that China had agreed to allow Chen to travel soon to the US to study.

    State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that US visas were ready for Chen, his wife and their two children.

    "We are ready when he and his government are ready," Nuland told reporters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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