Chen gets US visa; addresses Congressional hearing over phone
Getting ready to travel to the US on a fellowship, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng spoke to American lawmakers for the second time in a week and gave a detailed account of his alleged persecution and that of his family by Chinese authorities.
40-year-old Chen, who last month escaped house arrest in China and took shelter in US embassy, narrated his story over phone to the lawmakers during a Congressional hearing yesterday. Speaking in Chinese, which was translated into English, Chen complained that after he escaped from his home on April 26, his elder brother and nephew had been beaten up by the Chinese authorities.
"A group of local government hard thugs led by the local township leader, Mr Dong Gyen, raided my elder brother, Chen Guangfu's home at midnight. This group of thugs ... just broke into my elder brother's home and started beating them violently. My elder brother was taken away by these thugs and without any reasoning," Chen said. The translation was done by human rights activist Bob Fu.
"Then they came back and started beating up my nephew, Chen Kegui, and they used sticks and violently beat him up. Then for three hours he's bleeding on his head and his face, would not stop. So this was so violent that Chen Kegui, according to my knowledge, had to defend himself," the blind Chinese activist said. Though, he was addressing a Congressional briefing from China for the second time in a week, this was for the first time that he gave a detailed account of the alleged persecution of his family.
"This charge against my nephew, Chen Kegui, for so-called intentional homicide is totally pumped-up charge. For himself at his own home to be accused of committing this crime for intentional homicide to those intruders is totally absurd and irrational, unreasonable," he said. "So, this guy, this township leader, Mr Dongyan, had led from 40 to sometimes 80 officials, guards and thugs, raided my home in the past year and beat me and my family seriously. And so this is a pattern already. It's not the first time he had (acted) against my family. "After my nephew was beaten up and he actually was waiting and waiting to surrender himself, and the police come back again and violently beat up my sister-in-law," he said.
Chen said his brother was taken away without any reason by the authorities. Local Chinese authorities also did not allow his wife to meet him, despite having appropriate documents, he said. "What has been done by the Chinese security officers is a total violation against the Chinese own Constitution and the Chinese own criminal law. And of course those charges against my nephew for self-defence are a contradiction of Chinese own law as well," he alleged.
The activist alleged that this was the same tactic of Yinan County -- that was used against him in 2006 when they tried to prevent his attorneys from defending him during his trial -- which was now being used again against my nephew, Chen Kegui. "Those charges are trumped-up charges, and those people in Yinan County have already been on the opposite side of the rule of law in China," he said.
"And this is, so far, what I have learnt about my extended family members in Yinan County. And so right now I am not able to communicate with them anymore because all their communication tools were confiscated already," Chen told lawmakers at the Congressional hearing. Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters here that the American visas for Chen and his family members are ready.
"All of the processing on the US side has been completed. We are ready when he and his government is ready. We have been for more than a week now in terms of his visa to come (and) pursue his studies," she said. Nuland was responding to questions on the visa status of the Chinese human rights activist. Following some tense diplomatic moments between the two countries, China allowed Chen to leave the country on a fellowship offered by the New York University (NYU). "He (Chen) is continuing to work with his government. Our information is that those conversations, contacts and processing continue, and we've been in regular contact with him two or three times a day every day," Nuland said.