Blind activist’s brother Chen Guangfu disappears after leaving village to seek help for son facing murder charge
The brother of the blind activist Chen Guangcheng has gone missing after fleeing his village in north-eastern China to seek help for his son who is facing an attempted murder charge.
Chen Guangfu, the eldest brother of Chen Guangcheng, disappeared two days after he arrived in Beijing to support his son, Chen Kegui, who has been detained in a case that has become a rallying point among rights activists.
The Shandong-based lawyer Liu Weiguo said Chen Guangfu, a 55-year-old farmer and labourer, did not return to his hotel room in Beijing on Friday night.
Zhao Wei, a Shandong supporter of Chen Guangcheng’s family, was the last person to have contact with Chen Guangfu before they parted ways on Friday afternoon, Liu told the Reuters news agency.
“As of now, there’s still no news on Brother Guangfu,” Liu said. “We’re not optimistic. Guangcheng is also very worried. He’s contacting friends to look [for him].”
Chen Guangfu appears to have become the latest target of Beijing’s reprisals against Chen Guangcheng’s family in the wake of the activist’s escape from his village in late April after 19 months of detention at home.
Last week Chen Guangfu said he had been chained to a chair and beaten for three days to make him reveal how his sibling had escaped from house arrest in the Shandong countryside.
His son, 32, was accused of attempted murder after using knives to fend off local officials who burst into his home on April 27, the day after they discovered his blind uncle had escaped. He could face the death penalty. A team of independent lawyers who have offered to represent the defendant were dismissed by the authorities and told not to speak about the case.
Chen Guangcheng took refuge in the US embassy, where he stayed for six days and sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and the US. That crisis, which overshadowed a visit by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was finally defused last Saturday when China allowed him to fly to the US to study.
Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, said on Thursday that Washington was closely monitoring Chen’s family in China.