Josh Chin reports: One of the two activists identified as the “black hands” behind China’s 1989 democracy protests died of cancer on Tuesday, in a reminder of how little the Communist Party has budged in its tolerance of political dissent over the past quarter century.
Chen Ziming, 62 years old, died from pancreatic cancer Tuesday afternoon in Beijing, according to close friends.
“He was incredibly influential, in the academic world as well as in government and public circles.”
— Chen Min, a liberal writer and political commentator better known by his penname, Xiao Shu
“Famous Chinese dissident, so-called June 4th black hand and my mentor Chen Ziming finally succumbed to cancer,” Wang Dan, one of the leaders of the 1989 student-led Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, wrote on his Facebook page. “His death is a massive loss for the Chinese opposition movement, and for the country.”
Mr. Chen and fellow activist Wang Juntao were accused by the government of being the masterminds behind the 1989 protests. In 1991, both were sentenced to 13 years in prison, in a trial authorities used to bolster the official line that the protests had been the work of a handful of conspirators rather than a movement with mass appeal. Read the rest of this entry »
Emily Rauhala reports: New Express has a message for China’s censors: We may be small, but we have backbone. On Wednesday the Guangzhou-based newspaper published a front-page call for the release of its reporter Chen Yongzhou. Chen was detained by police in Hunan province while investigating a state-linked firm. The three-character headline, ‘Please Release Him’ was printed in a large, bold font above the fold. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post called it an “unprecedented” demand for press freedom. Read the rest of this entry »
Sophie Beach posts: Exiled activist Chen Guangcheng has announced that he will become a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ, a think tank which focuses on conservative causes, including opposition to gay marriage and abortion. From Reuters:
Chen will become a distinguished fellow in human rights at Witherspoon, which is based in Princeton, New Jersey, for the next three years. He will also be affiliated with The Catholic University of America and the more liberal-leaning Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, Luis Tellez, Witherspoon’s president, said in a telephone interview.
[…] Witherspoon, which Tellez says is guided by Catholic principles, is best known for its articles and studies opposing abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.
[…] He said Chen, who is not a Christian, would not be expected to espouse or even share Witherspoon’s views on social issues.
“I do not know Mr. Chen’s views on same-sex marriage,” Tellez said. “I never asked him. I don’t intend to ask him.” [Source]
Before arriving in the U.S., Chen, who is blind, was an advocate for victims of civil rights abuses in China, including forced abortions. Earlier this year, Chen left New York University, which had hosted him after he fled illegal house arrest, under a cloud of controversy and amid allegations that his agenda was being manipulated by influential members of the religious right.
Back in China, Chen’s relatives in his hometown of Linyi, Shandong, have been continually targeted by local authorities. Last week, Chen spoke to reporters about his family’s situation. Read the rest of this entry »