A reliable source told ChinaAid that the July beating occurred after a storm knocked out equipment that authorities had installed in Chen’s house to cut off all their telecommunications contact with the outside world. With the equipment disabled, Chen was able to make phone calls on July 25, but the calls were intercepted by authorities. On July 28, Shuanghou town mayor Zhang Jian led a group of people to Chen’s home and beat and tortured the couple for four hours.
This is the sequence of events:
2 p.m. — authorities clear out everyone from Chen’s village
3 p.m. — authorities conduct an exhaustive search of Chen’s home and find a phone card in a pile of ashes
4 p.m. — authorities start the beating. Chen’s screams of pain were heard first, while his wife Yuan Weijing was heard shouting angrily and their son Kesi cried. After a while, Weijing’s screams of pain could also be heard. From then until 8 p.m., the only sounds were screams of pain.
Some time later, a village doctor was permitted to give Chen some cursory medical treatment.
“Operation Free Chen Guangcheng” is perhaps one of the clearest examples of what frightens the Communist Party. It began earlier this year when activists began suggesting online that people should go as “tourists” to visit the 39-year-old blind lawyer, who has been kept under illegal house arrest for more than a year.
What started as a trickle of visitors has become a steady flow, with more than 30 people arriving at the village last weekend alone, despite the almost certain prospect of being greeted by violence.
Mr Chen upset local Communist Party officials by exposing a gruesome programme of forced abortions and sterilisations as part of China’s one-child policy.
He has already served four years in prison on the trumped-up charge of “blocking the traffic”. Since his release in September last year, he and his family have been locked into their home with steel shutters covering the windows.
On Thursday, activist Liu Shasha was taken into police custody for trying to visit Chen, while another campaigner was hospitalised on Thursday with broken ribs after being beaten by guards surrounding Chen’s village, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.
The group also said that on October 23, about 30 activists were assaulted and had their cameras and mobile phones robbed by a group of about “300 hired thugs” at the entrance of Chen’s village.
Shanghai campaigner Feng Zhenghu, who gathered nearly 400 signatures in an online “Free Chenguang” campaign, said police in Shanghai stopped him from participating in the October 23 protest.