It was just a year ago when blind civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng caught worldwide attention by scaling a back wall of his compound to elude Chinese authorities.
He fled to the U.S. Embassy in April 2012 and eventually landed in New York, where he and his immediate family members reside. But members of his extended family remained behind in Dongshigu Village in China, and there now are reports they are being harassed, intimidated and subjected to death threats.
Human rights experts say the harassment of Chen’s relatives has intensified in the past several weeks, leading up to the anniversary of his escape from authorities.
Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, reported that his home has had stones hurled at it, breaking windows and damaging the roof.
The most alarming act of intimidation against Chen’s family came in mid-April when dead chickens and ducks were thrown onto the family’s home alongside burned money, an act said to be “a curse and a threat used by the local villagers; it means death and conveys the idea that killing the person is as easy as killing a chicken or a duck.”
The area where the remaining family members reside has been decorated with flyers denouncing Chen Guangcheng and his brother.
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated, “We condemn the persecution of the relatives of Chen Guangcheng by Chinese communist thugs. This harassment is clearly designed to silence him as one of the leading voices in the world to expose the brutality of this regime.”
Chen Guangfu’s wife was also detained earlier this month for allegedly “hiding and sheltering a criminal.”
The criminal, according to authorities, was her son, Chen Kegui.
On April 26, 2012, shortly after authorities discovered Chen Guangcheng was missing, they raided the home of Chen Guangfu, took him into custody and beat his wife and son, Chen Kegui. To defend himself and his mother, Kegui reportedly grabbed a knife, according to reports.
Kegui was charged with attempted murder and was later convicted of “intentional injury” and sentenced to three years and three months in prison.
“The Chinese government will even stoop to detain without food or water a 10-year-old child in an attempt to silence her activist father, as in the case of Zhang Anni, earlier this month. We urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the harassment of Chen Guangcheng’s relatives in Dongshigu Village. We call upon President Obama and Secretary Kerry to urgently intervene on behalf of Chen Guangcheng’s relatives in China,” Littlejohn stated.
The story of the 10-year-old girl who was targeted also has been confirmed by Littlejohn.
She said police in China tormented the little girl to try to silence her dissident father, who had exposed government corruption.
On Feb. 27, Zhang Anni, 10, was ordered to her school principal’s office, whisked away by four unidentified men and detained without food or water for 20 hours.
She gave details of her ordeal to Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, which opposes forced abortion, gendercide and sexual slavery in China. Littlejohn recently was profiled by WND.
Littlejohn and Anni also spoke recently in a national radio broadcast over the Internet by a group that evades pervasive Chinese government censorship.
Afterwards, WND spoke with Littlejohn, who says the case has sparked national outrage in China.
Anni’s father, Zhang Lin, participated in the 1989 democracy protests in Anhui Province. Littlejohn says Zhang Lin is a prolific dissident writer who, according to Human Rights in China, has been jailed several times and is subjected to continuous monitoring.
Littlejohn said the Chinese Communist Party persecutes, detains and tortures the families of dissidents in an attempt to silence them. She calls it state-sponsored child abuse and says such persecution is routine in China.