For Immediate Release: October 12, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today deplored reports that Chinese authorities will prosecute Chen Kegui for “intentional injury.” Chen Kegui is the nephew of blind “barefoot lawyer” and dissident Chen Guangcheng who left China earlier this year for the United States after fleeing illegal house arrest. The organization urges U.S. government officials to uphold their promise to Chen Guangcheng, who was assured that the United States would work to keep his family and those who aided him safe from retribution by Chinese authorities. In particular, Deputy Secretary William Burns should use his upcoming October 17th visit to Beijing to make clear to Chinese officials that Chen Kegui’s access to his chosen lawyers is at the top of the diplomatic agenda.
Chen Guangcheng’s nephew was arrested and charged with attempted murder after Chen’s daring escape from house arrest in May. Chen Kegui has been denied legal representation, a violation of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China is a signatory. He was charged after defending his family when local officials stormed into his house and attacked his mother and father. Chen Guangcheng has said that he fears his nephew has been tortured.
Though local authorities have downgraded Chen Kegui’s charges from homicide to intentional injury, this prosecution appears to be politically-motivated.
“Chinese officials have continually shown disregard for the rule of law, first by illegally detaining Chen Guangcheng and now by continuing this persecution of his relative,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “When Deputy Secretary Burns meets with Chinese officials next week he should make clear that the United States government is keeping a close eye on Chen Kegui’s case. He must be allowed to see his lawyers.”
Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino has written twice to Secretary Clinton calling on her to speak out about the case. The State Department subsequently raised the case of Chen Guangcheng’s family members with Chinese authorities. Human Rights First has followed the treatment of Chinese lawyers and dissidents closely and will honor Chen Guangcheng with its annual Human Rights Award in on October 24.