No easy walk in (Central?) park for the barefoot lawyer
Does it ever stop for Chen Guangcheng?
He is one of the most iconic human rights defenders of our generation. A blind, self-trained lawyer in China, he worked tirelessly to try and help poor rural people in their land disputes and over cases of forced sterilisation – earning the (rather romantic) sobriquet the “barefoot lawyer”.
His reward? Endless persecution and harassment from the Chinese authorities ending in years of illegal house arrest.
So it was with intrigue last month that watched as he dodged the Chinese security services and got into the US embassy as the Huffington Post reported. And then with relief when he and his family touched down on US soil knowing that at last he was relatively safe.
But it’s not over yet. While his immediate family may be safe, fears are now growing for his wider family and the people who helped him escape.
Yesterday Chen took to the stage in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations – an American think tank – and articulated his concerns.
He raised concerns about his nephew, Chen Kegui. His nephew was attacked by police and chose to defend himself with a knife. Since then, as Chen Guangcheng explained, no one has been able to reach him, and he has most likely been tortured. Chen Guangcheng now fears for the safety of his defence lawyers. His views were covered across the globe, notably by Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Guardian and the Telegraph.
For us at Amnesty, we can’t stand by and watch it all unfold. To help support Chen’s associates you can either email the Chinese authorities directly or record a message of support.
Chen’s already achieved so much. It would be foolish to stand back now.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.