This undated handout photo taken on February 10, from a video released by China Aid Association shows blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speaking at his home in Linyi, east China’s Shandong province. China should immediately allow freedom of movement to blind human rights activist after accounts that he was severely beaten by police, a US official said Friday.
(AFP/CAA/HO/File/China Aid Association)
– Fri Feb 11, 5:17 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – China should immediately allow freedom of movement to blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng after accounts that he was severely beaten by police, a US official said Friday.
Chen, who gained worldwide attention for exposing abuses in China’s “one-child” policy, was beaten in apparent retaliation for releasing a daring video in which he described his harsh house arrest, according to rights groups.
The US official said that the United States was “concerned” by reports that Chen and his family were prohibited from leaving their home, including to seek medical treatment.
“We urge the Chinese government to immediately restore the personal liberties, including freedom of movement, of Chen and his family,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The comments stopped short of a full-fledged US statement on Chen, although the official noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised his case in a speech last month urging China to improve its human rights record.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer blind since childhood, served more than four years in prison after he exposed widespread late-term abortions and forced sterilizations under China’s policy of restricting most families to one child.
He was released in September and put under house arrest. In the video released by US-based rights group China Aid, Chen said that police had threatened to beat him or throw him back in jail if he spoke up.
After the video surfaced, Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defender said that police beat both Chen and his wife. Chen was left bedridden but he was not allowed to seek medical treatment, the group said.
US President Barack Obama publicly raised human rights concerns during last month’s visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao, but US rights advocates have often called on the Obama administration to be more vocal.