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China: Legal adviser and family being starved by local authorities

An ad hoc legal adviser and his family are facing the very real prospect of starving to death in their own home in the Shandong province in China.

Chen Guangcheng and his family are currently under house arrest in Dongshigu village in Shandong and are being stopped from replenishing their rapidly dwindling food supplies by the local authorities.

Chen Guangcheng is one of China’s “barefoot lawyers” who study some law independently and, although they never obtain a law degree or a licence to practice law, they help rural villages to protect their rights or seek redress through the courts.  

In August 2006, after a trial Amnesty International described as “grossly unfair”, he was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for “damaging public property and gathering people to block traffic”.

Amnesty International campaigned for his release and named him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for his peaceful activities in defence of human rights.

Chen Guangcheng was released on 9 September. The police then escorted him to his home and he and his family have been under heavy surveillance since and their phone lines have also been cut.

In the morning of 13 September, Chen Guangcheng’s wife Yuan Weijing tried to go to a nearby market to buy food but the people standing guard outside their home prevented her leaving the house. The family now relies on vegetables grown in their garden. Take action now

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK Campaign Manager, said: “The treatment of Chen Guangcheng is nothing short of a disgrace. He has stood up for villagers who have not been able to stand up for themselves and he is been punished for it.

“The Chinese authorities should release him and his family from house arrest immediately.”

Chen Guangcheng lives with his wife Yuan Weijing, their five-year-old daughter and his 76-year old mother. No one, including his brothers, has been allowed to visit them since his release. Chen Guangcheng’s son is staying with Yuan Weijing's sister in Yinan county, Shandong province so that he can go to school. They too have been harassed and are under heavy surveillance.

Take action for Chen Guangcheng and his family /p>


Chen Guangcheng helped villagers take legal action against the Linyi city authorities, who had allegedly forced thousands of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to have abortions to meet birth quotas set by government.

Prior to his release, Chen Guangcheng developed a persistent heavy cough which prevents him from sleeping. He has also had diarrhoea for the past two years. He continues to suffer from chest pains which first developed in 2007 after he was severely beaten in prison. At that time he told his wife that he thought he might have a broken rib. He is in need of urgent medical attention.

Chen Guangcheng appealed against his sentence later that year, was re-tried and appealed again but on 12 January 2007 the Linyi Intermediate People’s Court upheld the original verdict.

Chen Guangcheng was severely kicked and beaten by fellow inmates on the orders of prison guards on 16 June 2007 after he refused to have his head shaved.

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