The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China Paperback – March 1, 2016
Reflections by Mary E. Latela, February 7, 2016
In May, 2012, Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest in China and fled to the American embassy, prepared to continue his work in China. But after he was reunited with his wife and children at a hospital in Beijing, the reality of threats from officials and his conversations with friends about the risks the family faced appear to have changed his mind. He lives in the U.S. now, where he studies and continues his work. His family is here, too.
When his story “went global” writes Lynn Zhang, he became a celebrity and a headache for the Chinese authorities. Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal advocate who challenged the Chinese government over its harsh family planning policies, is a survivor, who has learned the realities of international politics. He outsmarted the guards who kept him under house arrest and then made his way into the American Embassy, setting off a diplomatic crisis that was resolved only after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton intervened and negotiated his freedom.
Amazingly, Mr. Chen escaped imprisonment to fall prey to partisan politicians, human rights activists, opponents of abortion and an array of politicians from both parties eager to make use of the celebrity glow of the man who stood up to the Chinese Communist Party. In other words, what could they gain from Mr. Chen?
His fierce, brutally honest autobiography will be out in paperback March 1, 2016, and I am eager to read it. Many, if not most, people who come out of captivity, succumb to the very real fear of reprisals to self and family if they continue their activism. Mr. Chen believes his message will be heard. It certainly would be a triumph of the human spirit and of human compassion if human rights violations, which seem to have receded to the background as China becomes more of a money power, became the focus of debate, and some resolution were set in place.
It will be a triumph as well for all who have fought to bring to light hideous treatment of persons when countries count their money and their power on the world stage instead of their precious citizens.