Blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, 36 years old, is currently serving an unmerited prison sentence of four years and three months after grossly unjust trials. He was sentenced for damaging property and blocking traffic, after he brought a class-action lawsuit against the local authorities in Linyi, Shandong province, for implementing a campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations, which allegedly affected thousands of local women.
Human rights advocates, including myself, believe Chen’s sentence is a politically motivated effort to prevent him from pursuing his peaceful human rights activities. Hence, we strongly advocate for his immediate and unconditional release from prison.
Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International stated:
"We condemn utterly the sentence imposed on Chen Guangcheng and consider him a prisoner of conscience. Chen has been imprisoned solely because of his peaceful defence of human rights and he should be released immediately."
"The charges against Chen were politically motivated and the trial was grossly unfair from start to finish. Chen's lawyers were obstructed at every step of the way, from collecting evidence to representing him in court. By some accounts the trial lasted only two hours; and the courtroom was filled with official representatives preventing members of the public and most of Chen's relatives attending."
Chen was initially convicted in August 2006 during a swift two hour trial. Since his conviction, his defense attorney, supporters and even his family, have been subjected to harassment, beatings, and intimidation. He appealed his sentence, and to everyone’s astonishment the appeal court ordered a retrial. However, the retrial was unsuccessful because the appeal court refused to consider new evidence from key witnesses.
Chinese activists have expressed that the lengthy sentence reflected that officials are cracking down on human rights advocates who include a growing number of lawyers, academics and dissidents trying to expand citizens’ freedoms through litigation and internet campaigns for legal reform.
According to Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, Chen hasn’t eaten well for the past few months and has not received a decent meal since his transfer to the Linyi Prison. Chen also expressed that the prison applies a cruel system: where certain prisoners are empowered to governing other prisoners. Chen’s wife thinks he is being mistreated in prison and we are all very worried about his well-being. Time is of the essence, we most join together to advocate for his immediate release. Also we most continue to build awareness about the illegal practice of forced abortions and sterilizations against women being practiced in various regions of the world.
Resources for further advocacy and learning interest:
CHINA: Prisoner of conscience sentenced
Please write Minister of Justice Aiying Wu Buzhang, to advocate for the calling for the immediate release of prisoner of conscience Chen Guangcheng.
Send letters to:
Minister of Justice Aiying Wu Buzhang
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Fax: +86 10 65292345
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (c/o Ministry of Communications)