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Blind Activist Flees House Arrest In China

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Chen Guangcheng, "a blind legal activist and inspirational figure in China's rights movement," has escaped from house arrest and is at secret location in Beijing, The Associated Press reports.

And in a video posted on YouTube, he declared "I am now free. But my worries have not ended yet. ... My escape might ignite a violent revenge against my family."

Also, the AP writes:

"In the video, Chen condemned his treatment and that of his family, accusing local Communist Party officials by name. He called on Premier Wen Jiabao, seen by many Chinese as a reformer, to punish those responsible.

" 'Including party leaders, police and other civilians, around 90 to 100 people have been involved in the persecution of my family. I hereby request to you, Premier Wen, to start an investigation into this case,' Chen said."

According to The Wall Street Journal, Chen's move:

"Could prove to be an embarrassment to Chinese authorities ahead of a visit next week by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

"Mr. Chen's escape is already believed to have led to the arrest of a second activist, said Bob Fu, president of the U.S.-based Christian human rights group ChinaAid, who confirmed that Mr. Chen escaped on April 22 and said the activist was now in Beijing in a '100% safe location.' Mr. Fu said Mr. Chen's escape was long-planned but he declined to offer further details."

Last October, NPR's Louisa Lim reported about how Chen had:

"Angered local authorities by exposing a campaign of forced abortions. But his prison term of four years and three months had been for 'damaging property and organizing a mob to disrupt traffic.'

"After being released from prison, he was returned to his own home in Dongshigu village, Linyi, in China's northwest Shandong province. There, he and his family have had their movements severely restricted and are watched around the clock. He secretly recorded a video recounting these harsh restrictions, which was smuggled out and posted online. In retaliation, he was badly beaten."

In December, actor Christian Bale was roughed up by Chinese authorities when he tried to visit Chen.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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