Surveillance ends at blind China activist village

Surveillance ends at blind China activist village
By DIDI TANG, Associated Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES 

 (AP) — Suddenly the guard posts came down and the hired toughs who manned them melted away, restoring an air of freedom this week to a village that authorities turned into a prison to keep blind activist Chen Guangcheng under house arrest for nearly two years.

The checkpoints, surveillance cameras and other measures had remained in place even though Chen fled Dongshigu village six weeks ago for sanctuary at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and ultimately went to New York to study. While directed at Chen, the security restrictions made life uncomfortable for his fellow villagers, who felt liberated with their removal.

 

 

"Finally we can sleep at night," said a villager who only gave her family name, Du, because the return to normalcy still felt uncertain. "In the past you could always hear footsteps from patrolmen and car noises at night, and the dogs barked."

"You no longer need to stop at checkpoints when you leave or enter the village. You can now walk down the road," said Du, a mother in her 20s who also farms. "I feel more at ease and happier."

So thorough was the cleanup this past weekend that locals said the surveillance cameras trained on Chen home had been removed and the high voltage street lamps dimmed. Two adjoining huts built at the village's entrance to house the guards — and where outsiders trying to visit Chen had been beaten — had been torn down. Even the trash they piled up had been taken away.

"It was as if the whole thing evaporated," said Chen's older brother, Chen Guangfu, who lives in the village with several others in the Chen family. "I feel liberated."

The persisting of the security barriers even after Chen's escape had raised questions about whether local authorities seemed intent on punishing other members of the family and the villagers who helped him flee.

Blinded by fever in infancy, Chen taught himself law and became known for defending the rights of poor farmers and the disabled in the wheat, soybean and peanut farming country of Shandong province. His exposure of forced abortions and sterilizations during an enforcement campaign for the government's one-child policy embarrassed local officials.

Over the nearly seven years since, he was either in prison or under house arrest, and his treatment carried the taint of a vendetta.

Rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, a friend of Chen Guangcheng, said local authorities likely got rid of the surveillance to destroy evidence ahead of an investigation by the central government. After his escape, Chen said a citizens complaints official told him Beijing would investigate his detention.

"If Beijing wants to go through the motion, it can do so" with the absence of evidence, Jiang said. "But if Beijing wants a real investigation, it can still do so because there are plenty of witnesses."

Calls to the local town police were unanswered, and employees in the government office at Yinan county, which oversees Dongshigu, said they were not clear about the removal of security.

Five people from Dongshigu and a nearby village corroborated the weekend cleanup and said that they were relieved now that the community is free of guards for the first time since 2005.

"I feel much relaxed now," said a villager who also gave only her surname, Liu. "No one is blocking roads and keeping watch on the village."

Liu also expressed her puzzlement. "Why didn't they do it in broad daylight instead of removing the security at night?" Liu said.

With the security gone, much remains unsettled in Dongshigu. Chen's nephew is in police custody on charges of attempted murder after he fought with local officials who stormed into his house looking for Chen Guangcheng after his escape. He has been unable to see the lawyers his family wants to represent him.

Instead, the court has appointed two lawyers from the same law firms that defended Chen Guangcheng in his 2006 trial.

Chen Guangfu said the firms did not provide much defense then. "All they said in court was, 'no objection,'" the brother said.

During the 19 months since Chen Guangcheng was released from prison into house arrest, local officials and the people they hired sometimes beat Chen and his wife, roughed up his mother and harassed their young daughter. Some of the hired toughs came from the village or surrounding communities, getting paid 100 yuan, or $16, a day to chase away unwanted visitors and torment the Chen family.

Chen's supporters also welcomed the end of heavy security, seeing it as a possible sign that Beijing is acknowledging the unfairness of local authorities.

"I feel this is a step in the right direction," said He Peirong, an activist who aided Chen's escape by driving him away from the village. "It goes to show the government is not unchangeable but that it can make adjustments."

 

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  • @sundaymouse
    她把自己的脸抓破了
    2012/10/11 01:38
  • 嘉美猫猫被虐待,气呼呼的样子,真可耐!
    http://t.co/eudeo4ME
    2012/10/11 01:00
  • @turingbook
    @sanwolfy 嘿,我不是说了,他老人家常有激进之举么。哈。
    2012/10/10 15:07
  • 刚才接到昆明警察回馈:已经收到我提供的小偷的电话号码,让我耐心等待,案子正在侦破中。。。我回答:办案经费不够,我悬赏2000块,找回自己的手机。
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  • 五四新文化何以演变成君临天下的毛泽东话语?鲁迅文章,是通向毛泽东专制话语的桥梁。新文化运动中,无论是胡适的自由主义,是周作人的人文主义,还是陈独秀经由亲历共产主义革命后的自由主义反思,都跟毛泽东话语绝缘。唯有鲁迅,预告了毛泽东专制话语和独裁时代的到来。
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  • @jxncshl15
    RT @jxncshl15 就凭你这句话,我就敢认定你在和土共通奸。
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  • @inkfisherman
    这也不是我说的,上海的那个李劼写的文章。
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