Saturday, April 28, 2012

"The night to him is nothing."

Meet my new hero, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who is apparently now holed up in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after escaping "house arrest," eluding guards assigned to watch him and bravely traveling 300 miles to Beijing.

While blind.
Chen Guangcheng

Chen is a 40-year-old lawyer who earned the wrath of the Chinese communist government by exposing thousands of cases of forced sterilizations and forced abortions by the government. In addition to a 51-month imprisonment, he and members of his family have been severely beaten and tortured by government security forces, and he has lived under house arrest since September of 2010, confined to a stone farmhouse which the New York Times says was "ringed by surveillance cameras, floodlights and a rotating cordon of guards"

According to the Times, whose account you can read here, Chen escaped by climbing over a wall at night and eluding multiple lines of guards. “You know he’s blind, so the night to him is nothing,” another dissident said. “I think that’s a perfect metaphor.”

It is indeed a perfect metaphor. Chen is one of thousands of brave dissidents in places like China, Cuba, Iran and other places who risk life and limb by exercising free speech rights that we take for granted. His escape is said to be a "complication" for the upcoming visit to China by a delegation led by Hillary Clinton. Good. The Communists who run China need to be reminded that oppression "complicates" things, including the ability to be a respected member of the world community.

It is unclear if Chen will seek asylum, since he reportedly would like to remain in his homeland and operate free from government torture and coercion. How the Obama Administration reacts to this "complication" will tell us a lot about their commitment to human rights.

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