Wife of blind China activist allowed to visit him in jail


The wife of a blind Chinese activist who was jailed after he documented cases of forced abortions was reunited with her husband Thursday for a 10-minute visit, the first such meeting since he was detained a year ago. Yuan Weijing said she saw Chen Guangcheng at a prison in Yilin in Shandong province, hugging him briefly and discussing his health as three policemen stood by watching. Chen’s mother and the couple’s two young children accompanied Yuan. “He looked like he was in good spirits when I saw him,” Yuan said in a telephone interview. “I felt so happy because he looked better than I expected.” Chen was taken away by police in March 2006 and convicted in August on charges of instigating an attack on government offices in his home village of Dongshigu in Yinan County. Police said he was upset with workers sent to carry out poverty-relief programs.

He also was accused of organizing a group of people to disrupt traffic, allegedly delaying hundreds of vehicles for three hours including an ambulance carrying an expectant mother to hospital.

But human rights activists say his case is an example of official retaliation and unjust imprisonment of dissidents based on phony charges. His supporters say he is innocent and that officials fabricated the charges after he documented complaints that officials trying to enforce China’s birth control regulations forced villagers to have late-term abortions and sterilizations. Yuan said she was not told when Chen was moved to the prison but that she was given permission to see him after arguing with police.

She said she planned to visit him again in the afternoon to bring him fruit. “They’re not going to keep me away from him.”

A woman who answered the telephone at Linyi Prison said she was “not clear” about the meeting today and didn’t know who Chen Guangcheng was. She refused to give her name.