Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng said won’t be silenced from speaking out and has no regrets after he fled extrajudicial house arrest and traveled to New York to study, according to an interview with CNN.
Chen, who escaped a cordon erected around his home in China’s Shandong province and fled to the U.S. Embassy in April, said yesterday on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 that he feared for relatives who remained behind.
The case sparked a diplomatic standoff between China and the U.S. that ended when he was allowed to travel to the U.S. Chinese authorities have limited movement by his relatives and arrested his nephew, Chen Kegui, who is accused of attempted homicide after clashing with officials who raided Chen’s house following his escape, according to the Associated Press.
“You can see their retribution against my family since my escape has continued and been intensified,” Chen said, according to a CNN transcript of the interview. “I’ve only been here for a short time. If the pressure in Shandong couldn’t silence me, I don’t think any other pressure will be able to silence me.”
Chen’s brother, Chen Guangfu, fled his village yesterday to seek legal advice in Beijing about how to help son Chen Kegui, the AP reported. Police have refused family efforts to name a lawyer for him, saying he will be represented by a lawyer chosen by the government, the AP said.
Choose His Lawyer
“We will have and will continue to, as I’m doing today, express our concern that these individuals be treated fairly in accordance with human rights principles, in accordance with Chinese law,” Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, told reporters yesterday.
Asked yesterday about the claim that Chen Kegui had not been allowed to choose his own lawyer, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reports that Chinese citizens are protected by and should adhere to Chinese law and regulations.
The AP report cited human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong as saying security was tightened in the town since Chen Guangcheng escaped.
Chen Guangcheng was imprisoned for four years in 2006 on what his family argues were spurious charges after he challenged forced abortions and sterilizations imposed under China’s one-child policy. He traveled to the U.S. with his wife and two children on May 19 and will study law at New York University.