Our banner: Happy International Day for the Blind Chen Guangchen!
WRIC volunteers visiting Chen Guangchen and family in his village. The banner says Return Freedom to Chen Guangchen and His Family
On October 14, 2011, five disability activists of Women’s Rights in China organized a visit to the blind activist and friend Chen Guangcheng in Dongshigu Village, Shuanghou Town, Jinnan County, Shandong Province. We wished to show our appreciation to the distinguished activist on the eve of the International Day for the Blind.
After we drove into Shuanghou Town to ask directions for Dongshigu Village, all passersby avoided us. Finally an elder man who was preparing to go into the fields asked us if we were looking for the blind man’s village. We said yes. He pointed us to a road under an aqueduct. There were several new buildings along the road. Several strong men stood guard at the entrance of the village.
The five activists bought some food and beverages across the road. Then the five disabled activists approached the village. Seven or eight men stood in front of the village. When they saw the activists approach, the men shouted and summoned many more men. They first took our gifts by force. The man in charge asked what we were doing there. We said that the next day would be the International Day for the Blind. We thought it proper to visit a blind friend. The headman refused to let us enter and asked where we came from. We told them that we were from distant places. Why couldn’t we enter the village? He said that not allowed meant not allowed. We asked if they were the police. He answered that they were villagers. We warned them sternly that villagers had no authority to bar us from seeing a friend.
At this time the other men who were watching started pushing us physically. Ms. Chen, who relied on her cane warned them loudly, “I can’t even stand. If you push me down, you will not hear the end of this!” As they saw we were all a group of disabled people, they stopped.
We tried to reason with them some more. “Chen Guangchen is not a criminal. You are detaining a citizen, a disabled citizen at that, indefinitely. It is illegal detention. You are also limiting the freedom of his whole family. His children can’t even go to school. So many of you with full use of your bodies against one disabled person, where is your conscience? Why are you doing this? If you don’t allow us to see him, we would petition the head of the National Disability Association, Zhang Haidi.”
One of the men sneered, “Who is Zhang Haidi? Why should we care?” Pangmei, in her wheelchair answered, “You apparently care less than Hu Jingtao.” Without saying anything more they pushed us out again. The villagers at the same time made calls that brought many cars and motorcycles, including a police patrol car, to the village.
It looked like entrance to the village was impossible. It was also growing dark. To prevent any more disadvantage, we decided to retreat first. We were not fleet of foot, so the rented van had to drive close to us. Suddenly two cars and a van cornered our vehicle and sandwiched us in the middle. They closely surrounded us as we drove out. When we stopped, they stopped, forcing us to drive at their command. From six in the afternoon to nine thirty, they stuck to us all the way from the village to the Linzi City highway entrance.
At the highway entrance, we were told that all highway exists and entrances were closed in Linzi. The weather was normal. The only reason was to prevent any more visits to Chen Guangcheng. We did not dare to stay in the city and had to follow a side road, with no rest till sun rise.
We do not think the behavior of the villagers was spontaneous but the manipulation of the police.
During the confrontation at the village entrance, a police cruiser drove right by us. Secondly, one of the black Mazda car that drove with us was staffed by plainclothes police. They constantly recorded us with camera and video. The other two cars also had their license plates covered. Thirdly, after our return to Hefei, the local national security bureau received news of our visit. Villagers alone could not have such cooperation with agents in another province.