Although there have been abundant reports on the miracle escape of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, it is not clear how he really escaped and who were directly assisting in his escape. A recent report “Who Saved Chen Guangcheng? Retribution in Dongshigu Village” in ISUNAFFAIRS provides us a clearer picture. The following is my translation of the first part from the report that makes the event of Chen Guangcheng’s escape out of Dongshigu Village to Beijing a comparatively full picture.
Who Rescued Chen Guangcheng? Retribution in Dongshigu Village ISUNAFFAIRS May 12, 2012, by Tian Yusheng ( original report in Chinese can be read here)
On April 20, Chen Guangcheng climbed over his courtyard wall and hid himself until midnight in his neighbour’s pig pen. At about 5am, April 21, Chen Guangcheng entered Xishigu village, mudded water all over him. A villager saw him and took him to the house of Liu Yuanchen in Xishigu Village. Liu Yuancheng informed Chen Guangfu, the eldest brother of Chen Guangcheng. Chen Guangfu contacted Guo Yushan, a Beijing scholar. Pearl, a Najing netizen was together with Guo Yushan at that time, drove to Shandong. At that moment, Chen Guangcheng was driven out of Linyi City by Dongshigu villager Chen Hua, and hid in Xintai City in Shandong. In the morning of April 23, Chen Guangcheng met Chen Guangfu, Pearl and others in Xintai City, and immediately left for Beijing. One week later, an arrest started in Dongshigu Village … …
It is May. In the countryside, flowers bloom and willows green, wheat sprouts grow and rapeseeds field golden. Dongshigu Village in Yimeng area is just another ordinary village in China. However, it is unique because a blind villager Chen Guangcheng lives here.
A blind villager, with self-studied law helping villagers safeguard their rights, became famous in neighboring villages as “Lawyer Chen”. He was awarded the merit “Ten Media Figure” of Linyi City by the local government. It was also due to his activities of rights safeguarding, he was regarded as a thorn in local government’s side that took him to prison, and under house arrest isolated from the world after his serving the imprisonment. However, he escaped out of the cage heavily guarded by hundreds guards and entered the American Embassy in Beijing. It is an unbelievable sage.
The village, where Chen Guangcheng is not there anymore, still under heavy guarding of local government.
Day hides and night runs
Until April 20, 2012, Chen Guangcheng had been lying on bed for days. Determined to run out of the cage, he was fooling the guards in the yard, pretending that he was sick.
According to Chen Guangcheng’s account during the interview, compared to the description of his relatives and villagers, we now have a sketch of how he escaped out of Dongshigu Village till Linyi City.
Differing from the previous interpretations, Chen Guangcheng escaped on the day of April 20. He climbed over his own yard wall with the assistance of Yuan Weijing.
He fell to the ground during the wall scaling, and hurt one leg. Enduring the pain, he quickly moved to a pig pen in his neighbor’s yard and lay down. This is a spot that was planned by him initially. He lay there motionless and quietly for several hours, listening carefully to the movements of the guards.
Until there was not sound around him, it should be probably midnight, thought Chen Guangcheng. He started to look for the Meng River that separates Dongshigu village and Xishigu Village. Cripped, half walking half climbing, though knowing clearly his village environment, though marking the paths and monitoring points in the village like a map in his mind, ChenGuangcheng used the whole night to walk out. A blind person, to evade the monitoring sites, without making any sound, to know where he is by touching, Chen Guangcheng achieved a mission impossible.
The night gave him some advantage. With special hearing ability of being blind, he could detect at the first moment if there were people around him. Once there was any sound, he stopped, and went forward only in quietness. There is a shallow sand-bedded river between Dongshigu Village and Xishigu Village. Chen Guangcheng used to swim there when he was small. This river was thought the place where Chen Guangcheng passed and increased guarding after his escape with one car and two people. In fact, Chen Guangcheng told his family, he walked the whole night, fell about hundred times, and crossed the river as well. However he still passed the bridge to Xishigu Village. Why didn’t the guards of the village find it? Probably they fell asleep.
At about 5am on April 21, Chen Guangcheng entered Xishigu Village, mudded water all over him. One villager who encountered him took him to the house of Liu Yuancheng. During the ‘Family Planning Storm’ in 2006, 59-year-old Liu Yuancheng was beaten and detained by family planning officials when he was taking care of his daughter’s house. Chen Guangcheng helped him to assert his right and they became friends.
Seeing Chen Guangcheng, Liu Yuanfu was surprised. He immediately hid him in his house and sent his wife to Dongshigu Village to make this known by Cheng Guangfu, the eldest brother of Chen Guangcheng. Chen Guangfu was not home, and his wife Ren Zongju came to Liu Yuancheng’s home and saw Chen Guangcheng. She immediately called Chen Guangfu who was at that time in Linyi City. Ren Zongju was very cautious and did not call through her husband’s telephone directly. Instead, she called a friend and asked him to pass his phone to Chen Guangfu, and told him, “Guangcheng escaped”.
The people’s rescue
Had not seen his fifth younger brother for more than a year, once heard that Chen Guangcheng escaped, the first feeling of Chen Guangfu was not happy, but with concern and fear. He could not believe that under such intense guarding, a blind person could escape. “My first feeling was that they intentionally let him run out, and then create a car accident to finish everything”. He was not the only person who suspected this. Several days later when Chen Guangcheng’s escape was circulated in his village, many villagers did not believe it. “Many people thought that the officials made him die, and then said he fled away”. Mr. Su of Xishigu Village said. Once the information was confirmed, Chen Guangfu immediately contacted Beijing scholar Guo Yushan.
The reaction of Guo Yushan was also surprise and suspicion, and asked for confirmation again and again. Chen Guangfu told him, it was true and his wife already saw Chen Guangcheng. Then they two decided that Guo Yushan would send car and pick Chen Guangcheng to Beijing.
Pearl, a netizen from Nanjing was together with Guo Yushan at that time, and then drove to Linyi.
Pearl arrived on April 22. Chen Guangcheng was already sent out of Linyi by Chen Hua and hid in a safe place in Xintai City, Shandong Province. Chen Hua is Dongshigu Villager, a neighbor of Chen Guangcheng. In 2006, Chen Hua disliked the guards monitoring Chen Guangcheng and got disputed with them; he was thus detained for 10 days. Chen Guangfu asked Chen Guangcun, father of Chen Hua, to take Pearl to Xintai City and found Chen Guangcheng.
Although it was the first time for Chen Guangfu to see Chen Guangcheng in more than one year, they did not have time talk, but asked Pearl to take Chen Guangcheng and leave immediately.
Until April 26, the information that Chen Guangcheng entered American Embassy was disseminated, the guards within and outside of Chen Guangcheng’s house started to realize that Chen Guangcheng escaped.
A whole week after Chen Guangcheng’s escape, the local government got knowing it. Led by the county head Zhang Jian, they went to Chen Guangcheng’s house first and once they confirmed that Chen Guangcheng fled, they put Yuan Weijing under their control immediately. In the morning of April 27, Chen Guangfu was taken to the Yinan Police. Making him extremely tired, and beating him, they wanted him to tell the details about Chen Guangcheng’s escape.
Chen Guangfu felt very grateful for other villager friends who helped Chen Guangcheng to escape, and tried to protect them, so he said he did everything. But soon he found that the government already knew a lot, and tried to arrest all those involved in Chen Guangcheng’s escape. Chen Hua and his father, were questioned for two days and two nights; Liu Yuancheng and his wife, were the same; Even for Zhang Shunxiang who only sent a message to Chen Guangfu was taken.
Chen Guangfu said, under the cruel repression, villagers were “very scared, but they still stood out at the critical moment”.
After two days and three nights questioning, Chen Guangfu was sent home at the night of April 29. He found that he was encountering the same treatment of Chen Guangcheng: he could not go out of his house and there were search lights and surveillance cameras installed outside his yard walls.
(The experience of Chen Guangfu, Chen Guangcheng’s elder brother speaks of ordeal, translated by Steven Jiang can be read in his blog)