Entries in Activist (3)


Blind Chinese Activist Believed to be in US Custody

STR/AFP/GettyImages(BEIJING) -- The U.S. State Department is being tight-lipped on the whereabouts of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who escaped house arrest last week, but the organization that helped him escape says he's in the hands of U.S. diplomats.

Chen, a 40-year-old human rights activist who has campaigned for disabled rights and against forced abortions, scaled a wall and slipped past 100 security guards surrounding his house.

Bob Fu, the founder and president of ChinaAid, which aided Chen in his getaway, called the escape an "extraordinary adventure."

"He walked for hours from his own home in the middle of the night. He was wounded, wet, covered in mud. He swam across a river," Fu told ABC News.

Chen was picked up by supporters and driven to Beijing on April 23. Several friends hid him in different locations until his last host was able to reach out to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on April 27, Fu said.

"He's now 100 percent safe. He's still in China, inside some diplomatic building in the hands of U.S. diplomats," Fu said.

Fu said he is not able to discuss the details of Chen's whereabouts because negotiations are still in progress, but it is widely believed that he is in U.S. custody.

"Very high level diplomatic discussion between China and the U.S. is now in progress," Fu said.

If Chen is in U.S. custody, this would be the first time since 1989, when the United States took in student supporter Fang Lizhi during the Tiananmen Square protests, that the United States has taken in a human rights activist.

At a State Department briefing Friday, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland would not comment on the situation other than to say the United States has called for Chen's release in the past.

"As you know, we have spoken out about his case in the past," Nuland said.

Fu said the Chinese government is deliberating and will probably release a formal response Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chinese Activist Jailed for Nine Years

Getty/Geor​ge Doyle/Thin​kstock(BEIJING) -- A Chinese activist was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday for inciting subversion.

Chen Wei, who was arrested along with several activists during a government crackdown in February, was sentenced in a closed door trial in a Suining court, in Sichuan province.

Chen, 42, wrote online essays in which he criticized the Chinese government and called for freedom of speech. Wei insisted that he was not guilty but merely expressing his opinion.

BBC news reports that according to Mr. Chen's lawyer Zheng Jianwei, his client told the court: "Dictatorship will fail, democracy will prevail."

Chen was also arrested and jailed for protesting during the 1989 in Tiananmen Square.

The nine year sentence is the longest imposed so far on an activist.

"This severe punishment against an activist, caught up in the Jasmine crackdown, shows how the Chinese government's nerves are still jittery," said Wang Songlian, a researcher with the Hong Kong-based advocacy group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

Copyright 2011ABC News Radio


Pro-Democracy Activist Suu Kyi Freed from House Arrest

File photo. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONDON) -- Activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi has been freed from house arrest, ending one of the longest detentions of a high-profile, pro-democracy figure since Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Suu Kyi -- who has been in prison or living under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years -- waved and smiled at a crowd gathered outside her home on Saturday. Her release follows the latest election in Myanmar, which was widely seen as fraudulent and which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted due to a range of violations.

The daughter of the founder of modern Burma, Suu Kyi was first jailed after rallying thousands of supporters in 1989, for an election which NLD later won. However, the ruling junta refused to recognize the election results.

“While the Burmese regime has gone to extraordinary lengths to isolate and silence Aung San Suu Kyi,” President Obama said in a statement, “she has continued her brave fight for democracy, peace, and change in Burma.”

“She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world,” he said.

Over the years, she has occasionally been offered freedom in exchange for banishment exile, but she refused, even when her husband was dying in England.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio