Saturday, 19 May 2012

Flying to Freedom

Right now blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng is on his way to New York.

He had no idea he and his family were leaving until earlier today when they were told to get their belongings together and were driven to Beijing Capital International Airport.

There they received their passports from Chinese officials and boarded a United Airlines flight to Newark.

Earlier there was confusion as to whether Chen and his family would receive their passports, but it's good to hear they did, otherwise it would have been a one-way trip to the United States.

While he will settle in New York, Chen is worried about his extended family, in particular his nephew Chen Kegui who faces a possible death sentence for allegedly slashing and injuring men who broke into their home after they found out Chen Guangcheng had escaped.

However the nephew claims he was acting in self defense, thinking robbers had entered their home. He apparently cannot get access to his lawyers.

After Chen's escape, his brother, Chen Guangfu was tied to a chair and beaten for three days by interrogators demanding to know where the 40-year-old blind went.

So while human rights activists are happy Chen Guangcheng can start a new chapter in his life, there are concerns his relatives will have to deal with the retribution.

Fighting the system is no easy matter when relatives are caught up in it even if they are completely innocent.

We hope Chen Guangcheng will make the most of his time in the US and hopefully return to continue his fight for others.

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