Wife of Chinese human rights activist beaten

The wife of imprisoned Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng was attacked and beaten early Sunday morning, as she tried to leave her home to visit grieving relatives.

Yuan Weijing was forced back into her home by nine men as she was leaving to visit her family, following the death of her brother-in-law, Luo Kengren. The men punched and kicked her as they dragged her back to her house in Shandong province.

Amnesty International has called on the Shandong authorities to stop the continuing harassment and attacks on Yang Weijing, who despite never having been charged or tried for a criminal offence, remains under tight surveillance.

Yuan Weijing has experienced several similar violent encounters with local authorities over the years. They have prevented her from meeting journalists and lawyers. In 2007 she was prevented from travelling to the Philippines to receive the Magsaysay award (described as Asia’s Nobel Prize) on behalf of her husband. The couple’s children have been prevented from registering at school.

Her husband Chen Guangcheng, 38, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for “intentionally damaging property” and “gathering a crowd to block traffic”. He had been campaigning against the alleged forced abortions and sterilizations in pursuit of birth quotas that have affected thousands of local women.

Human rights activists believe this was the real reason why he was put under house arrest alongside his wife in 2005 and then imprisoned in 2006. He is currently held at Linyi Prison in Shandong province.

“The continued virtual house arrest of Yuan Weijing is illegal. While national authorities are touting the new National Human Rights Action Plan, we see local authorities flagrantly violating the law in this case,” said Roseann Rife, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Programme.   

“Beating up the wife of a human rights activist as she attempts to reach her grieving family deserves wide condemnation.”