9/8/10 China (Jubilee) – Chinese authorities arbitrarily extended the 4-year sentence last week of blind activist and self-taught lawyer Chen Guangcheng, one of Time Magazine’s most influential people of 2006, for exposing China’s brutal one-child policy.
Prompted by a forced sterilization case in 2005, Chen collected testimonies from hundreds of thousands of women who lost children to forced abortion or sterilization, some as late as 8 months into their pregnancies. He was arrested in 2006 and given a 4-year sentence on false charges of traffic violations and creating a mob to block the streets.
Four grueling years later, Chen should now be a free man reunited with his wife, Yuan Weijing. Yet reports indicate several additional weeks have arbitrarily been added to his sentence because he will not confess his crimes or recant his statements against the Chinese government’s one-child policy. In his universal column from August 18, Lord David Alton, member of the House of Lords in the UK and co-founder of Jubilee Campaign UK, notes Chen’s desire to honor the victims he interviewed and reject the policy that led to 151 million sterilizations and 264 million abortions over the last 30 years.
Over the past four years, Chen shared a crowded cell and survived on bread and water mostly. His health was deteriorating last year according to his wife, who is monitored with her kids by the police all the time.