Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural areas of the People’s Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a “barefoot lawyer” who advocates for women’s rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. He is best known for exposing alleged abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions.
In 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organizing a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong, for what was claimed to be excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit, Chen was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, with a formal arrest in June 2006.
During his trial, Chen’s attorneys were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On 24 August 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic”. He was released from prison in 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remained under house arrest or “soft detention” at his home in Dongshigu Village. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance in February 2011.
Chen’s case received sustained international attention, with the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Secretary, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International issuing appeals for his release; the latter group designated him a prisoner of conscience. Chen is a 2007 laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and in 2006 was named to the Time 100.
In April 2012, Chen escaped his house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. After negotiations with the Chinese government, he left the embassy for medical treatment in early May 2012, and it was reported that China would consider allowing him to travel to the United States to study. On 19 May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City.
Up-dated on March 19th 2013 – *Highlights from last night’s award acceptance speech by Chen Guangcheng
Receiving this award I’m very happy. It’s like the fresh spring time of life is awaken for me to receive this prestigious award.
I’m thankful for the selection committee thankful to Katherine and George Alexander and I’m thankful to the president of the law school. This prize is meant to rise – promote the awareness of injustices and too promote the legal work around it.
US lawyers carry a heavy responsibility to advance justice. Chinese Lawyer will face much oppression when speaking out. Everyone has a responsibility to make society better.
Do you refuse to stand with evilness are we against the dictators anger even if we are sent to prisons?
Still many things are above the constitution like past emperors who enjoy power. The communist power is one of them.
Power is above the government if they commit crimes government leaders will not be persecuted and the law will prove ineffective and face no prosecution.
They use their organization to control and promote their own propaganda. They use their own tools to speak for them. Anybody who does not obey the law will be oppressed. “Justice is kidnapped”.
Whenever there is an injustice, we have to fight because directorship laws are bad. We must not to follow their leadership. When the law becomes the voice of the people, people will respect the law. The injustice can be minimized through our voices nothing else will help.
They promised they would do a thorough investigation of what my family and I had endured. The authorities would go to my house and humiliate and rob us. Do we have justice in communism?
My family hired an attorney we were threatened and we would not be able to appeal our conviction. This is the trend of stubborn communist Chinese. If you give in, you we will be given a lighter sentence. I lost twenty pounds while in prison.
Only the power of youthful thinking this power can change the world have faith and everything is possible. Never lose your voice, welcome the new legal change and the end the dark ages…..
Thank you all for coming I’m very grateful.
*The above acceptance speech excerpts were translated by a Chinese interpreter into English. We endeavored to provide an accurate depiction.