Jingping’s choice

Chen Guangcheng has posted a video online saying that the new head of China’s Communist party, Xi Jinping, is at a cross roads, and faces a choice  - he could either chose to reform, or to “kidnap the government and maintain the power of the Communist Party”.

If I were a betting woman I might be cautious about putting money on reform, given that, on Friday the sentence handed out to Chen Guangcheng’s nephew suggests an adherence to the status quo. He was sentenced to three years and three months on charges of “inflicting intentional injury”.  Amnesty is concerned that he was targeted in retaliation for his uncle’s escape, a concern which Chen Guangcheng echoed in the video.

Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, Chen Kegui was detained in April, after fleeing for safety following a violent raid by the local authorities on his family’s home. The raid – which happened just days after Chen Guangcheng escaped from illegal house arrest -  was conducted by around 20 plain-clothed men who failed to show any identification or a search warrant.

According to the people present, Chen Kegui picked up a knife in self-defence and injured several of the intruders, before fleeing the house. But his family were not called as witnesses at the trial, and Chen Kegui was not allowed to be represented by a lawyer of his own choosing. According to Chen Guangcheng the people who ordered his nephew's arrest have been promoted as a reward.

Ever since Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest, fled to the US embassy and then on to the US, his family have reported a catalogue of abuses at the hands of the local authorities which have not been investigated. It is hard not to see this latest chapter as another way of getting at Chen, through another Chen.

Chen Guangcheng calls on the newly ordained leader of the Communist Party to mark a sea change and break with the repressive practices that have come to typify the Chinese authorities. You can e-mail Mr Jingping directly and ask for an end to the harassment of Chen Guangcheng’s family and friends, here.

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