China’s Chen Guangcheng, this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership and whose image is projected on the screen receives an applause from his co-awardees and the audience Friday, Aug. 31, 2007, in Manila, Philippines, as he was unable to attend because he is currently serving a prison term. The wife of the blind Chinese activist denounced China for its human rights record and for being prevented from leaving the country to receive the Philippine humanitarian award for her husband. The Ramon Magsaysay Awards, which honor individual’s achievements, is Asia’s counterpart to the Nobel Prize. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)
Wife of Chinese Activist: I Was Held
BEIJING (AP) — The wife of an imprisoned blind Chinese activist said Saturday that she was dragged off a bus and held for hours to stop her from traveling to Beijing to speak out on his behalf.
Yuan Weijing said she was on a bus from Shandong province in eastern China on Friday when it stopped and she was pulled off by a group of government workers.
The alleged action comes after Yuan was blocked last week by Chinese authorities from leaving for Manila, Philippines, where she was to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, for her husband, Chen Guangcheng. Friday was also the day a speech by her was read at the awards ceremony, in which she accused Beijing of violating human rights.
Chen, 36, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison in 2006 after he documented cases of forced abortions and other abuses by family planning officials in his native Shandong.
“I think the purpose of this was to prohibit me from speaking out,” Yuan said by phone from her village of Dongshigu in Shangdong. “Three men and one woman got on the bus and they dragged me to get me off the bus.”
She said she was going to Beijing to highlight her husband’s case and to seek legal help after her passport was taken away when she was trying to go to the Philippines.
Yuan said she was held for about 12 hours and taken back to her house in a mini-bus. She did not give details, but said she recognized those who dragged her off the bus as being from her local government office.
Yuan, 31, was taken back to her home early Saturday, and she said about six people were standing in front of her house and that another four were blocking the entrance to the village.
A duty officer at the Shandong police office, who refused to give his name, said he had not heard of the case.
In Yuan’s speech read at the awards ceremony, she blasted China’s record on human rights.
“In China, our government is often the biggest violator of people’s rights,” Yuan said in the speech. “Because Guangcheng engaged in helping peasants safeguard their rights, he became the target of a retaliatory strike by some corrupt government officials.”
Chen was convicted on charges of instigating an attack on government offices in Dongshigu. Police said he was upset with workers sent to carry out poverty-relief programs.
Yuan said her husband was convicted “based on trumped-up charges and a flawed trial process” in which villagers allegedly were kidnapped and tortured to testify against him.
Chen and a fellow Chinese citizen jointly won the Magsaysay emergent leadership award. Chen, blinded by a fever as a child, helped farmers file court cases, led protests against a river-polluting paper factory and documented abuses.
Chung was recognized for his AIDS Orphans Project, which provides school fees for children who have a parent with AIDS.
Each winner received a gold medallion with an image of the former Philippine president for which the award is named plus $50,000.