Connect to share and comment

Health fears raised for Chinese activist's nephew


A lawyer for the jailed nephew of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng appealed for help from the United Nations on Monday, saying that without medical attention the prisoner risks death.

Chen Kegui, who was arrested a year ago in what supporters allege was retribution by Chinese authorities, has appendicitis and needs hospital treatment as his appendix is believed to be rupturing, the lawyer said.

"In light of the life-threatening nature of Chen Kegui's illness, the denial of adequate medical treatment in this case presents an urgent threat to his well-being," wrote Jared Genser.

Genser -- who represents the prisoner pro bono for the legal advocacy group Freedom Now -- wrote to the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, asking him to submit the appeal to Chinese authorities "as soon as possible."

Separately, the US-based advocacy group China Aid said "government-hired thugs" attacked the home of the prisoner's father, Chen Guangfu, in the early hours of Tuesday.

The assailants hurled beer bottles and bricks at the house, shone headlights and set off what sounded like explosives and Chen Guangfu discovered that his phone was disabled when he tried to call police, the group said.

When Chen Guangfu, the activist's elder brother, eventually called with another phone, the person who answered tried to dodge the issue of the attack and did not pick up a subsequent call, the group said.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind self-taught lawyer, escaped from house arrest a year ago to the safety of the US embassy in Beijing. He was allowed to leave for New York after tense negotiations between the two countries.

Chen told AFP in a recent interview that officials targeted his nephew in retaliation.

Chen Kegui was sentenced to more than three years in prison in November for assaulting authorities who descended on his village, in what supporters said was self-defense.

Chen Guangcheng had run afoul of authorities in eastern Shandong province by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under China's one-child policy. He was jailed and later reported severe beatings while under house arrest.