Human rights work in China often involves family, friends and even an entire village. Chen Guangcheng’s journey started by campaigning for the rights of farmers and the disabled (he was blind from a young age). He became a marked man after he assisted villagers in Shandong province to take legal action against city authorities for requiring parents with two children to be sterilized and forcing women pregnant with a third child to have abortions. Since then, he has been placed under house arrest, assaulted, beaten, detained, arrested and sentenced to prison. While under house arrest, around 400 villagers protested outside his home and clashed with police. The villagers escorted Chen Guangcheng to his cousin’s house so he could use the phone. Local officials and police then put guards outside that house and cut off the phone.

Yesterday, he got a rare opportunity to a retrial but the outlook of his case has not improved. And his wife Yuan Weijing was detained by police today. Prior to this latest incident, Yuan was beaten in February when she left home to shop for food. Later in March, Chen’s mother and Yuan while carrying her baby tried to stop the police from arresting Chen and his cousin. Both women and child were thrown into a ditch at the side of a road. Yuan suffered injuries from both incidents. And she continued to be harassed by the authorities up till getting detained today.

This case shows the relentlessness of the Chinese authorities in silencing their own people. After a family and a village failed to protect this blind man, the rest of the world must band together against injustice.

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