Shadow Remains Over Chen Guangcheng’s Village

Despite some relief in Chen Guangcheng’s home village of Dongshigu following the sudden disappearance last weekend of its heavy security presence, residents remain cautious as local authorities maintain a more low-key watch. From the Associated Press’ Didi Tang:

“The government spent lots of money to watch the little blind one,” Liu Wencai, an elderly farmer, told The Associated Press as he walked down a village alley. But when asked about the hired enforcers, Liu said, “I cannot answer.”

Asked about the guards who once stood at a bridge entrance to Dongshigu and chased outsiders away, a middle-aged man in blue overalls on a motorcycle refused to answer. Before riding away, he made a throat-slashing gesture as a warning that the topic of security remains taboo ….

On the road outside Chen’s home, three women — taking a rest from field work — told reporters they are happier now that the security guards are gone. But they quicky dispersed when four local officials showed up and asked reporters to leave so as not to distract farmers during harvesting season.

“This village is very peaceful. Nothing happens here,” one of the officials said. “It needs a quiet environment to develop its economy.”

A likely factor in the villagers’ lingering wariness is suspicion that the dismantling of the security machine has more to do with a cover-up than with any real resolution or relaxation. Chen’s brother, defying local authorities’ request that he “keep a low profile”, voiced these concerns to Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee:

Chen Guangcheng’s eldest brother, Chen Guangfu, told Reuters by phone that the authorities in the northeast Shandong province last Saturday night destroyed “black houses” – which he called symbols of “barbarity and tyranny” and where he said countless supporters of his brother had been beaten.

[…] “Not a shred of evidence is left after they’ve destroyed everything at the scene. Everything has been moved,” Chen Guangfu said.

“The two guard posts that were built specially for putting Guangcheng under house imprisonment at the entrance of the village,” he said. “For the past two years, countless netizens (Internet supporters of Chen) endured violent beatings in these houses.”