Anger over detained Chinese activist reaches capital

Tue Nov 1, 2011 12:32pm EDT
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By Chris Buckley and Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Supporters of a blind legal activist, whose long confinement in his village in east China has sparked widespread anger, petitioned Beijing officials on Tuesday after some said they were beaten when they tried to visit the activist.

In recent months, dozens of supporters have been blocked from visiting Chen Guangcheng, who is under virtual house arrest in his home village in Linyi in eastern Shandong province.

Some of the supporters were beaten by dozens of men in plain clothes while trying to visit Chen on Sunday, and their complaints were later ignored by the local police, said Mao Hengfeng, a petitioner from Shanghai.

She said the petitioners then went to Beijing's Ministry of Public Security, but it was not clear whether officials accepted their petition expressing concerns about Chen's treatment.

"We were roughed up and pushed around, and some of us were hurt, but the police didn't lift a finger and ignored our complaints," Mao told Reuters about the weekend incident in Linyi.

"Now we want the Ministry of Public Security to do something about Linyi -- it's a place without any law or rights."

Mao said that as of Tuesday afternoon several petitioners were still at the Ministry of Public Security.

Petitioning officials has deep roots in China, where courts are seen as beyond the reach of ordinary people. But studies show only small numbers of people have been able to solve their problems through petitions.   Continued...

<p>Yuan Weijung (C), the wife of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who is serving a four-year prison term after exposing forced abortions and sterilisation in northern China in 2005, is checked by uniformed and plainclothes policemen as she leaves her home in Beijing August 24, 2007. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause</p>