WASHINGTON — A blind Chinese activist who exposed abuses in Beijing's population control policy was beaten unconscious by dozens of men led by a communist party official, his wife said in a letter released Thursday.
Human rights groups earlier reported an attack on activist Chen Guangcheng in February, but the account from his wife -- who said she was also severely abused and remains under house arrest -- offered graphic new details.
Wife Yuan Weijing said that 70 to 80 men stormed their home in February. She said around 10 beat her husband for more than two hours while the others trashed the place, taking away a computer, video-camera and even flashlights.
"Some of them twisted his arms forcefully while the others were pushing his head down and lifting his collar up tightly. Given his poor health condition of long-time diarrhea, Guangcheng was not able to resist and passed out after more than two hours of torture," she wrote.
The letter was released by ChinaAid, a US-based rights group. It said it received the letter on Wednesday.
Yuan said the couple was not allowed medical treatment. She said she was covered with a blanket and beaten, which she believed caused her broken ribs. She said she could not see for five to six days and still cannot stand up straight.
Yuan said that the assailants were led by a local communist party vice secretary and included policemen, although they did not wear uniforms or show legal documents.
Yuan said that authorities have stepped up pressure on them since the beating, with their five-year-old daughter also under house arrest and Chen's mother followed constantly by three men.
Previous attempts to verify the couple's condition independently were unsuccessful. Reporters from Western news organizations said they were roughed up in February when they tried to reach Chen's home in the city of Linyi.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer blind since childhood, served more than four years in prison after he exposed widespread late-term abortions and forced sterilizations under China's policy of restricting most families to one child.
He was released in September and put under house arrest. He later made a daring video, also released by ChinaAid, in which he said police threatened to beat him or throw him back in jail if he spoke up.