By Joshua Lipes
Chen Guangcheng at RFA in Washington, June 25, 2014.
A United Nations panel has ruled that the nephew of Chinese blind dissident Chen Guangcheng is being arbitrarily detained by authorities in China, calling for his immediate release and compensation for his suffering during more than two years in custody.
Chen Kegui was detained on April 29, 2012 and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for clashing with officials who invaded his home and attacked his family in the wake of his uncle’s daring escape from house arrest earlier that month.
On Wednesday, Washington-based prisoner advocacy group Freedom Now, which assisted Chen Guangcheng in bringing the case to the attention of the U.N., conveyed that the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had issued a ruling against China’s continued detention of Chen Kegui last week.
“China likes to claim that it is a country that adheres to the rule of law, but now an independent and impartial body at the United Nations has declared that Chen Kegui is being detained in violation of international law,” Freedom Now founder Jared Genser told RFA.
“I call on China to follow the U.N.’s call for Chen Kegui’s release and to adhere to their commitment to the U.S. that it would stop persecuting Chen Guangcheng and his family.”
Family members have said Chen Kegui is suffering from a medical condition behind bars.
Earlier this month, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that Chen Kegui’s continued imprisonment was “in contravention of … the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” according to a copy of the ruling provided to RFA by Freedom Now.
“The Working Group requests the [Chinese] Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, which include the immediate release of Chen Kegui and to grant him compensation for the harm he has suffered during the period of his arbitrary detention,” the ruling said.
Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer who exposed forced abortions under China’s one-child policy and defended the rights of ordinary people, has been living and studying in the United States since arriving in New York in May 2012, after a diplomatic standoff between Washington and Beijing.