|Chen Guangfu has escaped to Beijing!|
Chen Guangfu, 55, slipped out of the village of Dongshigu, Shandong at 3am on Tuesday while his minders slept. News reports are not explicit, but he must have received help from rights activists in order to make his way to the capital.
He did this to draw attention to the plight of the family since his brother's departure to the United States last week.
In particular he is advocating for his son Chen Kegui, 32, who is accused of murder when his family says he was acting in self defense with a kitchen knife when Chen Guangcheng's minders broke into the house when the blind activist fled over a month ago and demanded to know where he went.
The son is in police custody and cannot get access to a lawyer so his father went to Beijing to get him one. And in the process the farmer and itinerant labourer has highlighted the fact that the situation has not improved for Chen's family back home.
"Legally Chen Guangfu is a free man, but in reality guards had been preventing him from leaving his village," said Ding Xikui, the Beijing lawyer who met him on Thursday.
Chen Guangfu's escape is surely going to irritate local officials again -- for not being able to contain the fallout of his brother's dramatic escape to the American embassy and then flight to New York.
In the deal involving Chen leaving the US Embassy, there were promises made by the central government to investigate the Shandong officials who orchestrated his 19 months of house arrest and periodic beatings of him and his wife.
However it was unclear if the investigations had begun, if at all.
"There is still some hope but if nothing is done, it shows that these were just empty promises," said Wang Songlian, a researcher at Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
And there are indications I blogged about earlier here show that Shandong Party chief Jiang Yikang is set to be transferred to Chongqing in the fall, which means he was hardly demoted, and instead promoted to managing a major Chinese city.
To pay retribution for his brother's actions, Chen Guangfu told of being whipped and stomped on by angry interrogators who demanded to know how the blind man was able to evade his captors as well as scale several walls. The older brother said this physical torture lasted 48 hours.
While Chen Kegui is being detained and not allowed to see any lawyer of his choosing or his family, his mother Ren Zongju may also be indicted for "harbouring" her son, a charge punishable for up to 10 years in jail. She was detained April 29 and then freed on bail.
Her daughter-in-law Liu Fang has been in Beijing for the last three weeks trying to get a lawyer to represent her husband.
The fact that a man has to escape past paid thugs after enduring beatings and abuse in order to find legal representation for his son shows how paranoid Chinese authorities are about Chen Guangcheng and they want attention to go away.
But it won't disappear now that Chen Guangfu is now in the capital.
Perhaps he will go to the US Consulate as well?
Maybe the Chinese government should take this as a good example of history repeating itself when nothing is done to fix the problem in in the first place...