Chen Guangcheng won two nominations for Wired UK’s 2012 ‘Smart List’ of “50 people who will change the world”, including one from Ai Weiwei:
“Chen Guangcheng is an activist from Shandong who lost his sight as a child; but he is a bright light that shines in the darkness. Without any professional training, he taught himself law to help himself and other disabled people and disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Outside China, he is best known for filing a lawsuit on behalf of women who suffered under China’s forced-abortion and sterilisation campaign. He has also fought for more equitable taxation of villagers and disabled people. He’s suffered a series of house arrests, detentions and trials and is currently confined to his home, along with his wife and daughter. Constantly under surveillance by agents and hired villagers, he’s prevented from communicating with the outside world. But in February 2011 he smuggled out of the village a homemade video that described his situation. After this, he and his wife were reportedly beaten and their computer, video camera, audio recorder and TV aerial, as well as legal documents relating to his case, were confiscated. The windows of the family house were covered with metal sheets. His bravery, persistence and thirst for justice are great inspirations. I would like to take this opportunity to express my respect for him and to send him my best. It would be an honour for me to meet him one day.”
Chen was also nomimated by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas Kristof, who described him as “amazingly brave” and “indomitable”. The magazine announced that it “will be inviting all nominators and nominees to a giant dinner party”, which neither Chen nor Ai appears likely to be able to attend.