Monday, February 06, 2006

Dongshigu, Shandong, China – Hundreds of angry farmers and peasants attacked the armed guards that were holding activist Chen Guangcheng under house arrest. The villagers mobilized themselves after news broke that Guangcheng's cousin, Chen Hua, had been beaten and detained by police while trying to visit him. Chen Guangcheng was born a blind peasant, but taught himself to be a lawyer that fought for the poor and disadvantaged.

He was first placed under house arrest last September in retaliation for bringing a class action lawsuit against the Shandong Provincial government, whose officials he claimed routinely ordered non-consensual abortions and forced sterilizations that were performed on poor women who had never given birth (Chinese law prohibits women from having more than one child). The lawsuit resulted in the firing of several prominent Shandong officials, but soon after, Guangcheng was arrested on charges that he had given "state secrets" to foreign journalists.

Mr. Chen spoke with reporters by telephone during the confrontation saying: "[The authorities] are a bunch of bandits...The grassroots civilians are awakened already so the only thing they [the authorities] can depend on is violence."