A group of Internet activists decided to visit the blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng on October 5th. But, none of them made it to their destination. At least nine were scattered, stopped or taken by Chinese officials.Henan-based Internet activist Li Shasha first came up with the idea. Buddhist nun Miao Jue also joined them, but police took her away from her hotel room at 1:00 a.m.
Another activist, Zhu Wenli, was presumably captured. His last call was to Li Shasha, stating, “I am in danger.”
Microblog posts indicate some activists had gunshots fired in their directions, and others were chased. All nine individuals are currently unreachable by mobile phone.
Another rights lawyer, Jian Tianyong, explains Chen’s current situation.
[Jiang Tianyong, Rights Lawyer]:
“No one has received any news about him. What everyone knows is that now he should have been free, but he is completely deprived of freedom by local authorities. They put him under house arrest. And for anyone who goes to see him, their personal safety cannot be guaranteed.”
Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught lawyer known for exposing abuses such as forced abortions as well as harassment committed by local authorities. He has been under house arrest for the past year, despite just finishing a four year jail sentence in September 2010. He was charged on trumped-up charges of (quote) “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.” The officials who watch over Chen and his wife have been reported of beating the couple from time to time.
This October 5th attempt to visit Chen is not the first act of trying to help the blind lawyer, who has gathered much sympathy and attention among netizens in China and human rights activists abroad.