Catherine Yeung has translated reports on the situation of legal activist Chen Guangcheng and his family, who have been isolated under house arrest since Chen’s release from prison last September.
I have recently received, from an indirect source, some news about Chen Guangcheng. It seems that his situation is much worse than we have expected. His family is now relying only on a small amount of food that they have saved up to keep them alive, since none of them is allowed to go out and shop for food. They eat mainly vegetables that they grow themselves. Only Chen’s 70-odd-year-old mother is allowed to step outside of the house. Every time she goes out to pick some vegetables, she is escorted by three security guards. Not even their relatives are allowed to get in touch with them. Not a single of piece of paper is left in the house. They are all confiscated. Their six-year-old daughter is not only suffering with her parents; she is also deprived of a chance to have an education at home.
Chen Guangcheng’s family in total isolation – Earlier this year, Chen Guangcheng’s oldest son (whom Chen has entrusted with a relative in another county so that he can study in a primary school there) returned home for a brief reunion with his parents during Chinese New Year. He was strip searched before he was allowed to leave the house. Their television antenna is destroyed, radio confiscated, books taken away. Chen Guangcheng continues to suffer from blood in the stool. His health has started to deteriorate in around May. Blood in his stool has turned from red to black. Yuan Weijing, Chen Guangcheng’s wife, was beaten up badly at the beginning of this year. Some bones near her left eyebrow and at her left rib would have been fractured. But till now she has not yet had a chance to go to the hospital for treatment.
Though the provenance of these reports is uncertain, details of Chen and his family’s situation are otherwise impossible to obtain; reporters attempting to visit him have faced violent resistance from security guards. In June, the Associated Press revealed the contents of a smuggled letter purportedly written by Yuan Weicheng, which gave a similar account of the family’s circumstances.