After escaping from house arrest, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng issued a dramatic video message calling on Premier Wen Jiabao to protect his family, punish the people who had attacked them and combat corruption, recounting alleged abuses he and his family suffered at the hands of police.
"Premier Wen, so many people do not know whether such illegal acts are the acts of corrupt local officials or commanded by the central authority. I think you must thoroughly investigate the truth and give your people a clear answer," Chen said. "If you continue to ignore this and do nothing, what will the people think?"
Chen, a 41-year-old lawyer, was jailed for four years after exposing forced sterilization and other abuses carried out by Chinese family-planning authorities, then placed under house arrest once his prison term was over. He escaped last weekend in a rescue operation mounted by his supporters.
"I finally escaped," Chen began his Friday video message to Wen.
Chen asked Wen to investigate and punish police officers who he said had repeatedly attacked his home, robbing and assaulting his family. In one instance, more than 10 men had pinned him to the ground, and beat and kicked him for four hours, Chen said.
His wife was beaten so badly that her eye socket bone was broken, but she was never allowed to call for medical treatment, he said. Chen said his child was followed to school every day by three officers. He said his mother was grabbed by the arm and thrown to the ground on her birthday, her head hitting a door.
"She accused them of the shame of hurting the old. And they actually said back to her: 'Yes, this is true! ... You old ones can’t beat the young.'" Chen said. "This is evil. Inhuman. Intolerable.
"You must see to the bottom of this," the activist said. "Even though I am free, my family ... are still in their grasp. While I was there, they were repeatedly harmed. Now that I'm gone, I can only imagine how it has blown up."
Chen's rescue appears to have been timed to coincide with U.S.-China discussions on human rights this week. His case has attracted global attention.
-- Rosanna Xia, Scott Sandell and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Video: Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese dissident who escaped house arrest last weekend, speaks about his case. Credit: YouTube