Name: Chen Guangcheng
Profession: Legal advocate
Crime and Punishment: Chen, a blind, self-taught activist, defended peasants who were sterilized and forced to have late-term abortions under the one-child policy. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison in 2006 for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disrupt traffic." Upon release, authorities forced him to remain in a small village in Shandong province, surrounded by plainclothes security officials, who deny him contact with the outside world.
Chen's village has become somewhat of a human rights shrine and adventure
tourism destination. Actor Christian Bale, in China to promote a film,
attempted to visit Chen in December only to be attacked by the security guards.
Author Murong Xuecun described
the Guardian his attempt to visit the village:
"We're here to see a man called Chen Guangcheng. May I ask if he lives here?'
Taken aback by my directness, he paused. Then covertly he leaned in towards me to say, 'Well, there have been some robberies recently here in the village. You know, chickens, cows. So I can't let you in.'
I chuckled: ‘Oh we're not here to steal anything. Don't worry. We're just here to see Chen Guangcheng. We'll leave immediately afterwards.'
His expression turned stern. A few others came out of the house, among them a middle aged man wearing a black corduroy jacket. The man had a mild face but his words were brusque: ‘It's harvest season. All the men are gone. We're afraid of losing things so you can't come in.'"
When Murong insisted, the men attacked him.
Many other Chinese, including a carload of physically disabled men and women, emboldened by Chen's work in defending the disabled, have also attempted to visit Chen's village. Although guards did not attack the disabled citizens, they did try to steal their milk.