Escaped dissident pleads for action on corruption

Chinese activist who evaded security cordon names officials who 'ignore the law'

Beijing

Chen Guangcheng, one of China's most prominent political activists, has pleaded with premier Wen Jiabao to take a tougher stance on corruption after escaping from house arrest this week.

In a YouTube video, Mr Chen, who is thought to have fled on Sunday after eluding security officers outside his home in Shandong province, urged Mr Wen to punish corruption. He named several local officials he said had told him that they "did not care about the law".

Mr Chen also appealed to Mr Wen to keep his family safe, and to probe the brutal treatment he claims they have suffered at the hands of local authorities guarding his home since his detention in September 2010.

"Dear Premier Wen, it was not easy for me to escape," he said in the video. "I can confirm that all the rumours on the internet about the violence done to me at Linyi were all the truth. The actual facts are even worse than the rumours you know from the Internet."

Unconfirmed reports suggest Mr Chen is safe in Beijing. Activists said his family are at the village home in Linyi, which is surrounded by police. "I am still concerned because my family – my mother, my wife, my child – are still in their hands," said Mr Chen.

The 40-year-old, who has been blind since childhood, had been detained in his home since his release from a four-year prison sentence in 2010. A self-taught lawyer, he fought against forced abortions and sterilisations in rural villages and the brutal enforcement of China's one-child policy. He was jailed in 2006 for "damaging property" and "organising a mob to disturb traffic".

His plight has drawn international criticism and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has repeatedly called for his release.

Mr Chen's home was heavily guarded by hired men known to attack his friends and relatives, as well as diplomats and journalists who tried to approach the house. Violence resulted when the British actor Christian Bale tried to visit the "barefoot lawyer", as Mr Chen is nicknamed, last December.

Mr Chen has long highlighted corruption and heavy-handedness among local authorities, but China's central government has always distanced itself from the case.

Mr Wen is seen as a caring figure, often referred to as "Grandpa Wen" for his compassionate approach during disasters such as the Sichuan earthquake. He has also vocally supported political reform, though his influence is waning as he enters the last few months of his rule.

China's human rights movement is likely to take inspiration from Mr Chen's bold move. He Peirong, who has campaigned for Mr Chen's freedom, said yesterday that she had helped him reach "a relatively safe place" after his escape. Ms He said: "His mental state is pretty good. He's alive, but whether he's safe I don't know." She said she had last seen Mr Chen days ago. "There's absolutely no guarantee for his safety," she said.

Ms He also denied an online report by Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao newspaper which said that Mr Chen had taken refuge in the US embassy in Beijing on Thursday. By yesterday afternoon, her account on the Chinese social networking site Weibo had been shut down and an unconfirmed report from another of Mr Chen's supporters, Jia Jia, said she had been arrested.

The non-governmental organisation Human Rights in China (HRIC) said Mr Chen's nephew, Chen Kegui, had confirmed that his uncle had fled the family home. According to HRIC, he also said Mr Chen's father, Chen Guangfu, and the lawyer's older brother had been taken away on Thursday.

According to an HRIC statement, Chen Kegui said the head of Shuanghou Township, Zhang Jia, who was in charge of enforcing Chen Guangcheng's house arrest, arrived at the family home early yesterday morning. He said the local leader's assistants attacked him with sticks, only fleeing when Chen Kegui picked up kitchen knives to defend himself. He said he is now in hiding because he fears for his life.

China's opposition: Leading activists

Ai Weiwei

The worldwide fame of the outspoken contemporary artist has given China's persecuted band of dissidents more public attention than ever. His anti-authoritarian views have led to him being fined and imprisoned for alleged tax evasion, as well as placed under house arrest and surveillance.

Liao Yiwu

The author and poet first came to the attention of China's autocrats when he published a long stream-of-consciousness protest poem, titled "Massacre," about the violence against protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. His interviews with citizens suffering under the regime are banned.

Guo Quan

The human rights activist was detained in 2008 when he complained about the government's poor rescue and aid efforts after the devastating Sichuan earthquake. Currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for subversion, his wife and family have fled to the US.

Bao Tong

The most senior Communist Party official to be jailed for opposing the Tiananmen Square crackdown, he was given a seven-year jail term after supporting reformist General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, who was purged in 1989. Now out of prison, he was banned from giving interviews in 2009.

Huang Qi

Another activist to suffer from his reactions to the Sichuan earthquake, he was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009 for "illegally holding state secrets". He got into trouble for giving advice to victims of the disaster who wanted to sue the local authorities for the poor construction of schools that collapsed.

Rob Hastings

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Asset Finance Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - ASSET FINANCE - An outstanding...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Assistant Marketing & PR Manager

£16 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment