Chen Guangfu: “They Didn’t Appear to Be Farmers”

The harassment campaign against the family of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng continues to mount, as Reuters reports that his eldest brother said that two government-hired thugs beat him on Thursday:

Chen Guangfu, 56, said two young men punched and chased him as he was heading home to his village of Dongshigu in the eastern province of Shandong.

The men, who appeared well-dressed and in their 20s, jumped out of a black car and hit him repeatedly on the head, he said. He said he was not seriously injured in the beating that lasted several minutes.

“I started shouting and running away from them at the same time,” Chen told Reuters by telephone, about 10 minutes after the incident happened.

“This is a continuation of what has been happening to me since April 18,” Chen said, adding that he believed the men were government-hired thugs. “My feeling is that they didn’t appear to be farmers.”

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While Cheng Guangcheng fled illegal house arrest a year ago and was ultimately allowed to travel to the United States to study after seeking protection in its Beijing embassy, a shadow has hung over his former village in Shandong province. His nephew, Chen Kegui, Chen Guangfu’s son, was sentenced to 39 months in jail for “intentional infliction of injury” after he allegedly attacked men who had broken into his house to search for Chen Guangcheng following his escape. Chen Kegui now reportedly has appendicitis and has not received adequate medical treatment.

Chen Guangcheng told a U.S. congressional subcommittee last month that China had violated the deal that enabled him to leave the country last yearciting the continued persecution of his family back home. Chen Guangfu said the attacks on his family smacked of retaliation for his brother’s comments, according to the South China Morning Post:

He said the men appeared to be government-hired thugs as their actions were swift and “very professional”.

As he was talking to the Post by phone, the black car returned and loitered around him, he said while standing by the motorway.

“I don’t know whether they are trying to end my life,” he said, sounding terrified.

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New U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said last week that he planned to raise the case of Chen Kegui with senior Chinese officials, though the State Department said that Kerry called but could not reach the Chinese Foreign Minister.