Update: Chen Guangcheng in New York
On arrival in New York City, activist Chen Guangcheng said, "We should link our arms to continue in the fight for the goodness in the world and to fight against injustice." He spoke publicly to a crowd at New York University late on Saturday. The lawyer who fought forced abortion and received strong support from the Christian community will study at NYU under a student visa.
Here's the You Tube video of his comments:
Many American groups, faith-based and secular, have campaigned for Chen's release from house arrest, including Women's Rights Without Frontiers. In 2005, Chen published his research that there were 130,000 forced abortions in Shandong Province. This report resulted in a four-year prison sentence. WRWF President Reggie Littlejohn, on April 30 in a statement to a congressional panel, said "Chen may be safe for the moment, but the women for whom he risked everything are not. Forced abortion is not a choice. It is official government rape."
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According to Bob Fu of ChinaAid and updated by the Washington Post and other media, Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist against forced abortion in China, departed Beijing early this morning (EDT).
Bob Fu reported on his website:
ChinaAid just learned that blind activist Chen Guangcheng's was told to pack and get ready to get leave China today (May19). Bob Fu talked with Chen an hour ago. Chen said Chinese official informed him that he would leave today, though he had not yet received his passport. Chen was not told which city in the US he was going. ChinaAid and Chen family deeply appreciate the international community's tireless efforts to gain his freedom, including Church's passionate prayers, both the efforts of the US Embassy and the US Congress, who held two timely hearings on his behalf. Chen also wanted to express his gratitude to the Chinese government who fulfilled one of its promises to allow his family to leave.
Earlier in May, Chen captured the world's attention when he escaped house arrest from his village and fled to the safety of the US Embassy in Beijing. After days of high drama and diplomacy, Chen left the embassy for a Beijing hospital and China's leadership agreed to allow Chen to study at an American university. (Chen is a self-taught lawyer who took up human rights cases.)
The Washington Post reported early today:
Chen said U.S. diplomats arrived at the airport around 2 p.m. Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, reached by telephone while waiting for the flight, said Chinese officals gave the family their passports after they arrived at the airport. U.S. diplomats readied the visa papers.Speaking by phone from the airport earlier, Chen said, "I feel all sorts of emotions and feelings right now."
Chen said the move was so sudden that he regretted that he never had a chance to meet with his mother and other family members left behind in Linyi city, in Shandong province. He called that "a pity." His wife also appeared to feel mixed emotions at the sudden departure. "We haven't decided how long we want to stay in the U.S. We'll see," she said. United Airlines Flight 88 to Newark took off several hours behind schedule. The delay was likely caused, among other things, by a thunderstorm. The news of Chen's impending departure for the United States was first announced by Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid, a Texas-based Christian rights group. Fu spoke with Chen Saturday morning when he was being driven to the airport by Chinese officials. "He was very excited and very glad to tell me. He said, I'm looking forward to seeing you," Fu said in an interview. Chen has been offered a visiting fellowship at New York University.
Christianity Today will update this story as events develop.