27 Apr 2012

Dissident flees, calls on Premier to seek truth

11:04 pm on 27 April 2012

Human rights activists in China say the prominent dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng has escaped from his home in Shandong province.

He has been under house arrest since his release from jail in 2010, the BBC reports.

An USA-based activist and friend of Mr Chen says he fled Shandong but that his wife, mother and family were still at the family home, guarded by the authorities.

One of China's best known dissidents, Mr Chen has since released a video addressed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

In it, he makes three demands, including one that Mr Wen investigate what Mr Chen, who is blind, calls the brutal beating up of his family members.

Mr Chen says his family was beaten up and tortured by local officials and policemen who had no warrants that could justify the detention of his family: "I request firstly if you can intervene in this matter. I ask you to set up a dedicated group to carry out through investigations that can restore the truth."

He demands to know who ordered the assault and have those responsible for the brutality punished.

In the video, Mr Chen names some local officials who told him that they "do not care about the law" and that "a few hundred people" were hired by the local government to "lock down" the village that he lives in, earlier this year.

Mr Chen also appeals for the safety of his family, hinting that his family is still in Shandong.

''I may be free but my worries are for my family… my wife, my children, my mother. Perhaps because of my leaving, they may become the target of more brutal abuse.''

"For so long my family have been suffering from these persecution, now I have gone, they [government officials] might take revenge [on my family] out of madness."

Mr Chen describes the multiple assaults on his wife by the people guarding him, causing bone fractures to the skull to ribs, and adds that they were barred from seeking medical treatment.

"We cannot let these taxpayers' money be spent by local officials to persecute the others."

"Premier Wen, people cannot understand all these illegal acts. Has it been local officials who disobey the law, or have they been acting upon orders from the central government? You should give the public a clear answer very soon."