Earlier today, we saw reports that Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident who has been oppressed because of his powerful activism against China's forced abortion policy, left the U.S. embassy where he'd sought refuge. The headlines emphasized that he'd been "reunited" with his family. Now, the Associated Press reveals that he left the embassy under the most horrible conditions:
BREAKING --AP: Chen tells AP he was told Chinese officials would have killed his wife had he not left embassy
And one of the people who helped Chen escape, He Peirong, is herself detained now.
At about 5:00 a.m. Dublin time, I skyped Peirong one last time and she did not answer. She had been detained, and no one has heard from her since. We don’t know if Peirong is being tortured or whether her detention will last days, months or years.
In pressing for Chen’s freedom, let us also press for the freedom of his rescuer, He Peirong, a hero in her own right. She stood up for Chen during his time of greatest need. The least we can do is stand by her as she pays a terrible price for her courage.
I wish that the United States had done more to ensure Chen's safety and that of his family and friends. I'm not sure if anything could have been done, but the response of China shows that this regime -- beloved as it may be by New York Times columnists -- remains one of the most oppressive in the world.