Chen Guangcheng’s Brother Escapes Village

Chen Guangcheng’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, has also escaped their home village of Dongshigu and made his way to Beijing, where he met with his son’s would-be lawyers. Chen Kegui is in custody awaiting trial for the attempted murder of a guard involved in a raid on the family’s home. From Tania Branigan at The Guardian:

“I met Chen Guangfu this morning. His health situation is okay,” said Ding Xikui, a lawyer authorised by Chen Kegui’s wife to represent her husband.

“His family are not allowed to leave the village. Chen escaped secretly. He came here to tell us what happened that night [when people broke in] and seeks help from the lawyer. He also supports the request from Chen Kegui’s wife to engage us as his lawyer in this case.”

Chen Kegui’s wife hired Ding and Si Weijiang after two other lawyers she had appointed were intimidated and harassed. But officials told the men that they could not act for Chen Kegui unless his wife came to the police station to file paperwork. She is currently in hiding due to fears for her safety.

Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee met with Chen Guangfu to discuss his son’s case, his own reported torture, his brother’s departure, and other events of the past month.

He said he was restricted from leaving the village and that police in Shandong warned him they would increase the sentence for his son, Chen Kegui, who is being held on an attempted murder charge, if he gave interviews.

“I feel since they are already doing this, why can’t I say something?” Chen Guangfu said late on Wednesday in a teahouse in western Beijing. “I have the power to speak up.”

“I told them their claims have no legal basis, but are based on power or by their will to determine Kegui’s sentence. On this point, I’ll never be able to accept it,” he said, adding he planned to return to his village soon.

Local government and public security bureau officials were not immediately available for comment.

Chen Guangfu said that the security presence around Dongshigu has only intensified since his brother’s escape. As Charles Custer commented at ChinaGeeks in the immediate aftermath of Chen Guangcheng’s escape, this security apparatus had become a significant factor in the local economy, which various parties had a strong interest in sustaining. McClatchy’s Tom Lasseter reported from the area last week on the persistent cordon around the village.

A reporter attempting on Wednesday to walk the stretch of farm fields and groves between [Pengjiazhai] village and Chen’s hometown of Dongshigu was intercepted by two guards at a turn on a small dirt track. Their stools were positioned so that they could easily see anyone crossing to Dongshigu across a remaining flat expanse, the length of about six and a half football fields.

On the highway to Dongshigu, police cars and vans still zipped back and forth, their lights flashing. Men lurked in the meadows.

The continued siege of Dongshigu underscores the punishing weight with which China enforces its version of social order. It suggests, too, the steep costs of such an approach – the inertia of an authoritarian system that becomes difficult to change, and a messy legacy that it must then try to conceal.

See also Chen Guangfu’s earlier account of his torture by local security officers, news of Chen Guangcheng’s arrival in New York and the start of his family’s new life there and more on the Chen Guangcheng saga via CDT.