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"A Hero of Us All" by Jay Norlinger, National Review

"A Hero of Us All" by Jay Norlinger, National Review

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Published by estannard
A story in the Nov. 28 issue of National Review about human rights activist Chen Guangcheng mentions Li Qun, who reportedly served as an intern under New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and was later accused of being responsible for oppressing Chen. Used by permission of National Review.
A story in the Nov. 28 issue of National Review about human rights activist Chen Guangcheng mentions Li Qun, who reportedly served as an intern under New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and was later accused of being responsible for oppressing Chen. Used by permission of National Review.

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Published by: estannard on Nov 26, 2011
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month, there were reports thatChen Guangcheng was dead.That they had at last killed him.“They”? China’s ruling Commu-nists, who have tormented Chen for years.Other reports said, No, he is not dead: justin very bad shape. Any report about Chenis now impossible to confirm or deny. Theauthorities are not letting anyone from theoutside see or talk to him.Many people in the world regard Chenas one of the greatest men we have knownin the last decade. These admirers work onthe assumption that Chen is alive. A furiousinternational campaign is under way tosave him.Chen was born on Nov. 12, 1971, in theLinyi area of Shandong Province. When ayear old, he contracted a fever, which lefthim blind. Just a peasant, he educated him-self, including in the law. He was ready andavailable to help people. Jianli Yang, a dis-sident now in America, calls him a “bornleader,” someone who has always cared for others and whom others respond to.To the extent he could, Chen helped thedisabled petition for their rights. He helpedfarmers, too. In the worldwide press, hehas been known as “the blind lawyer,” or “the barefoot lawyer,” or “the blind ruralactivist.” Many Chinese throughout thecountry know him simply as “the blindman.”What gained him his fame, and torment,was his exposure of one fact: In the year 2005 alone, in just the Linyi area, therewere 130,000 forced abortions and ste-rilizations. These procedures are brutal.Moreover, relatives of those who escapedthe procedures were detained and tortured.Harry Wu, a long-famous dissident work-ing in America, says that few outside Chinareally understand the consequences of theone-child policy. Jing Zhang, another dissi-dent, associated with the Boston-basedgroup All Girls Allowed, points out thatChen touched one of China’s most sensi-tive nerves.He organized a class-action suit against partment and the EU uttered their peeps.Organizations were good enough to giveChen awards, in absentia. Nothing movedthe Chinese government.He was released from prison in Sep-tember 2010 and confined to his home inthe village of Dongshigu. This sort of con-finement is known as
, or softdetention, but it has been very hard. Chenand his family have been watched con-stantly and subjected to escalating abuses.In February, he managed to have a videosmuggled out to the West. It was publicized by a group in Texas called the China AidAssociation, which said that the video hadcome courtesy of a “sympathetic govern-ment source.”In the video, Chen described the circum-stances in which he and his family were being kept, and he said, “The thing weneed to do now is conquer terror” andexpose practices that are “lacking in hu -man conscience.” He said he was “fully prepared” to be tortured after the video’srelease, but was “not afraid.” Yuan Weijingspoke too, saying that her family was indanger. With a breaking voice, she ex- pressed the hope that friends would takecare of their children, Kerui and Kesi, if something happened to them, the parents.What happened immediately is thatChen and Yuan were beaten to a pulp. A let-ter from Yuan, made available in June, toldus the following:
More than ten men covered me totallywith a blanket and kicked my ribs and allover my body. After half an hour’s non-stop torture, I finally squeezed my headout of the blanket. I saw more than tenmen surrounding Chen Guangcheng, tor-turing him. Some of them twisted his armsforcefully while the others pushed hisheaddown and lifted his collar up tightly.
local Party officials. At first, the govern-ment in Beijing seemed pleased with him.In China, believe it or not, forced abortionand forced sterilization are illegal, official-ly. Beijing signaled that it would punishthe guilty locals. But Chen was gettingattention in the international press, cele- brated as a whistleblower, and a blind peasant, at that. This displeased Beijing,which left Chen to the mercies of the localofficials.They seized him in March 2006. Theyharassed, detained, and beat members of his family and his lawyers. To him, theydid worse. Eventually, they gave him atrial, but it was the usual sham. For exam- ple, his lawyers were forbidden to attend.Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, said, “Thereisn’t much hope.... We live in a nationwithout law, a nation without morality.”He was sentenced to four years and threemonths in prison.There, he faced what political prisonerscan be expected to face. He was beatenover and over. He went on hunger strikes.He was denied medicine.His wife, sometimes under house ar -rest, sometimes not, did all she could tohelp him. The months before the BeijingOlympics in 2008 were especially bad for dissidents and other “troublemakers,”although Western supporters of thoseOlympics had said the Games would dowonders for China’s liberalization. Theguard around Yuan increased from tenmen to 40. She wrote a letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao, calling herself “noth-ing but a rights defender’s wife.” She toldof the humiliations she and her familyendured.The West protested too, in various ways.At the U.N., there were “working groups”and “special rapporteurs.” The State De -
A Hero of Us All
Chen Guangcheng, China’s blind and brutalized lawyer 
With their son Kerui 
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