China: blind pro-life activist severely beaten in prison

 Lord Alton sent this report to us last night concerning Chen Guangcheng, a blind activitist, jailed for exposing China's one-child policy of forced abortions and sterilisations. Amnesty International now fears for his life after they learnt that Chen has been badly beaten by his fellow prisoners on the orders of the prison guards. According to the Amnesty report, Chen was pushed to the floor by six other prisoners who were encouraged by the prison guards to "hit and kick him hard." Chen said "he was being punished for 'being disobedient' due to his insistence on filing an appeal to the provincial higher court and for refusing water and food. In the conclusion of their report, Amnesty International stated that they "feared for Chen's life and that he was at further risk of torture and ill treatment." Chen Guangcheng, was first taken into police custody in September 2005, after exposing China's brutal population control tactics in the Shandong Province which included forced abortions and sterilisations. For months he was held without trial, subjected to beatings, and denied contact with his lawyer, his wife, and other advocates. On August 24, 2006, Chen was formally sentenced to serve four years and three months in prison for "damaging public property and gathering people to block traffic." Throughout the trial, Chen's lawyers were denied access to their client, harassed and beaten, and key witnesses were blocked from testifying; the trial itself lasted less than two hours. Since that time, Chen has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to appeal his sentence. The message from Lord Alton's office says: "No longer can we stand idly by while China continues to silence dissidents and oppress its citizens. Please consider writing to the Chinese Ambassador on Chen's behalf and take a few moments to pray for his safety and immediate release." The address of the Chinese ambassador to the UK is: Ambassador Zha Peixin Embassy of the People's Republic of China 49-51 Portland Place London W1B 1JL

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