Legal activist Chen Guangcheng has reportedly escaped his 18-month house arrest in the heavily guarded Shandong village of Dongshigu. From the Associated Press:
The campaigners said Friday that Chen Guangcheng slipped out of his usually well-guarded house in Shandong province this week. They are declining to say where Chen is, though activist He Peirong says he is no longer in Shandong ….
If confirmed, Chen's freedom would boost a persecuted dissident community that has seen heavier repression in the last two years. Chen is a self-taught lawyer who served four years in prison for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in his community.
Yaxue Cao managed to contact Chen's nephew Chen Kegui by telephone and heard his account of last night's events, including the detention of his father and his own attack on two guards with a pair of kitchen knives. From Seeing Red in China:
Early in the morning (April 26, Thursday), a lot of vehicles (not police vehicles, he said, at least not marked as police vehicles) and plaincloth guards descended on the village. His mother (Ren Zongju, 任宗举, CGC’s sister-in-law) overheard the guards saying on the phone that CGC disappeared and only [his wife, Yuan] Weijing was home. The villagers, including CGC’s relatives living in the village, had no idea what had happend.
Updated: Numerous sources report that Chen has entered the US embassy in Beijing. Activist Hu Jia is said to have verified this with an AP reporter, but an update to the AP report above gave no sign that such confirmation had been received, quoting He Peirong:
"I can tell you he's not at the U.S. Embassy, and he's not in Shandong. I did talk to the U.S. Embassy people, though," He said.
The embassy would not comment. Security outside the embassy appeared normal Friday.
Updated: Reuters offers conflicting accounts of Chen's current situation:
Bob Fu, president of the Texas-based religious and political rights advocacy group ChinaAid, told Reuters Chen had been moved to a place "far from his home" but could not give more details until he received word from Chen.
"He is not dead," Fu said. "He is very far from his home, but he is safe," Fu said in a telephone interview ….
Another activist, He Peirong, told Reuters Chen had "escaped" but did not know where he was now.
"He's probably fallen into the hands of the police," she said.
Updated by Anne Henochowicz: Great Firewall climbers starting reporting about Chen Kegui and Chen Guangcheng about nine hours ago. A tweet from Ai Weiwei (@aiww) echoing Hu Jia's previous statement has been retweeted over 50 times in the past two hours:
aiww: According to Hu Jia, an AP reporter has confirmed that Chen Guangcheng entered the American embassy.
Select tweets by @mozhixu and @pearlher translated below.
mozhixu: Gu Jun: At midnight tonight, Zhang Jian took a group to climb over the wall into the family compound of Cheng Guangcheng's eldest brother. Zhang was savagely attacked by Chen Kegui (the son of the brother) with a knife. I don't know if Zhang is alive or dead! There were others wounded by Kegui, but I don't know the details! Now Kegui is waiting to surrender in Cunnan! "Know that I'm leaving you forever!" Chen Kegui: netizen @PingyuanDayou's phone number: 18264981827
mozhixu: 古均：今半夜，张健带人翻墙进入光诚大哥家，张健被陈可贵（大哥之子）用刀狂砍，目前不知生死！还有几人被陈可贵砍伤，具体情况不详！目前陈可贵再村南等待自首！知道我诀别！ 陈可贵：网名@平原大由 电话：18264981827
mozhixu: Tonight is shocking, but the news still has to be hammered down. The people reporting this information are all from Guangdong. They're dependable people.
mozhixu: RT @YaxueCao: I just spoke with Chen Kegui on the phone. The "hearsay" is true, and he really is waiting for the police. I recorded the conversation and will upload it to the Guangcheng website as soon as possible. [Links to recordings posted on CDT earlier by Samuel Wade. Scroll up to find them.]
mozhixu: RT @YaxueCao: 刚跟光诚大哥的儿子陈可贵通了话，＂传说＂属实，他仍在等警察到来。我录了音，会尽速在光诚网站登出。
mozhixu: @JiangTianyong: Guangcheng May Be Gone: I just spoke with Chen Kegui on the phone and learned two important pieces of information: (1) On April 26 policemen and cadres suddenly descended on Dongshigu, scurrying in and out of the village with anxious expressions. Guangcheng's mother heard that her son was gone, leaving only Weijing [his wife]; (2) Kegui described the circumstances surrounding his knife attack on Zhang Jian. He was completely justified! Kegui has already reported the incident and is waiting for the police. Please call Kegui and record your conversation: 18264981827
pearlher: Recently, what I can confirm is that @mozhixu has played an extremely dishonorable, shameless role in spreading news about the Chen Guangcheng case.
Reply from daofeichang: Look, how did you confirm that? If you can't confirm it, you must assume responsibility for the consequences.
Reply from mynamexu: Teacher Dao has spoken for me!
pearlher: 目前，我能确认的消息是 @mozhixu 在陈光诚的事件中，扮演了极其不光彩，可耻的角色。
pearlher: Such an enormous event for Guangcheng's family. @mozhixu is talking at great length about this on Weibo [Twitter]. Can he call lawyers at the Open Constitution Initiative in Beijing: Teng Biao, Xu Zhiyong, Li Heping, Li Fangping, Zhang Sizhi and He Weifang, as well as a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, and notify all of the writers and overseas dissidents to give support? Can you tell human rights organizations to move quickly on this? Can you contact every foreign mission in China as soon as possible?
pearlher: 光诚家出如此大事，@mozhixu 在微薄高谈阔论，他可电话北京公盟律师，滕彪，许志永，李和平，李方平，张思之，贺卫方，一个独立笔会理事，可通报各位作家海外异议人士声援？可通报人权组织紧急行动起来？可紧急联络各驻华领事馆？
mozhixu: Is it that you don't have any resources of your own? You disregard your friend's trust. Why eat that meal when you can feed it to the barnyard animals!
Reply from pearlher: Ordinary netizens are pleading online.
pearlher: Netizens in Shandong and the surrounding area, I implore you to drive along National Route 205 and look for Kegui. Please help, I beg you all! I can't go out anymore, otherwise I'd get in the next car to go by.
pearlher:RE reggielittlejhn Chen Guangcheng and his family are in danger. Pls inform humanrights ORGs in EU and Irland Parliament and EU.
Updated: He Peirong (@pearlher) has reportedly been arrested:
— Louisa Lim (@limlouisa) April 27, 2012