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Chen Guangcheng: Blind Chinese Dissident Escapes House Arrest

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Chen guangcheng, escaped human rights activist
Chen guangcheng, escaped human rights activist

One of China's most well-known human-rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, has escaped from house arrest and released a video demanding the premier investigate government corruption and the brutal beating up of his family.

His breakout has been described as a "miracle" by his supporters, a "real Chinese version of the Shawshank Redemption" especially as Chen is also suffering from ill-health, which many have attributed to beatings by his captors. He is now thought to be hiding in the US embassy in Beijing.

Chen, who is blind, managed to evade 90 wardens guarding his house, reportedly using cover of darkness to give him an advantage over his captors.

The Chinese government has come under fire for its treatment of the dissident, with many of his supporters saying they were beaten when they tried to visit Chen, and reports that his daughter was barred from school.

In the video, published on Chinese news website Boxun, he makes three demands to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Chen first asks that the government "severely punish criminals", the Guardian said. He then demanded that Wen deals with corruption in China, and asks that his family's safety is ensured.

Chen alleges that local officials have "broken his wife's bones" and beaten his mother in savage four hour attacks.

Christian Bale was pushed and shoved by security guards after trying to visit Chen whilst in China promoting The Flowers of War.

Many of his supporters fear his family may be beaten in revenge for helping the high profile dissident escape. In the video, Chen admits he fears that officials may wreak "insane retribution" on his loved ones. According to Human Rights China, his brother and father have already been rounded up and taken away by village officials.

The 41-year-old dissident has been under house arrest since his release from a four year prison sentence in 2010. Also known as the "barefoot lawyer", Chen has had no official legal training as he was blind as a child, and not allowed to attend school.

Chen is most well-known for campaigning against China's one child per family policy, exposing how some women were forced to have abortions, or undergo sterilisation. The relatives of people who had escaped the forced abortions were tortured and beaten by officials after they fled, claimed Chen.

After campaigning on their behalf, he filed a lawsuit, travelling to Beijing to seek redress. Although China's family planning commission launched an investigation and reportedly detained officials, his lawsuit was rejected and Chen was placed under house arrest a few months later.

China aid have said that they have asked by Chen to convey to the outside world his intention to “fight to the end for the freedom of my family inside China. I want to live a normal life as a Chinese citizen with my family.”

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