"My nature wouldn't allow me to sit by and disregard what was goingon," the 40-year-old Chen told CNN in his first US televisioninterview, adding he had "no regrets" about his activism despiteyears of incarceration. Chen, a self-taught lawyer who exposed abuses in China's"one-child" population policy, arrived in the United States onSaturday after last month escaping unlawful house arrest and takingrefuge at the US embassy in Beijing. After weeks of high-level sparring between diplomats from theworld's two largest economies, Chen was eventually grantedpermission by Beijing to leave to take up the offer of a fellowshipat New York University. Several other dissidents who have following the same trail fromChina to exile abroad have lapsed into obscurity. But Chen, who hasbeen blind since a childhood illness, said he would not besilenced. |
"If the pressure there couldn't silence me, I don't think any otherpressure will be able to silence me," he said, through atranslator. Chen was sentenced to more than four years in prison in 2006 afteraccusing authorities in Shandong province's Linyi county of forcingup to 7,000 women to undergo late-term abortions or sterilizations. He was then placed under illegal house arrest upon his release inSeptember 2010, and has accused hired thugs of regularly assaultingboth himself and his wife. "Let's just say that my suffering was beyond imagination," Chensaid, while renewing concern about relatives left behind includinghis nephew Chen Kegui, who is in trouble with authorities afterattacking intruders at his home. The blind activist said he had expected to run afoul of thecommunist authorities for his legal campaign work, "but I didn'timagine they would disregard the law so blatantly." "It was very natural" to work on abuses stemming from the one-childpolicy, he said.
"I feel it's in people's nature to want to stopevil and embrace good." Escaping the enforced detention at his village home, Chen lastmonth scaled walls in the dead of night, badly hurting his foot inthe process, before a getaway car took him from Shandong in China'seast to the US embassy. After six days at the embassy, Chen spent more than two weeks at aBeijing hospital before suddenly being given notice to pack up hisbelongings and prepare for departure to New York. Chen, who is to become a research fellow at New York University'sSchool of Law, has repeatedly said he is not seeking exile in theUnited States and may one day want to go back to China. When asked how it felt to sit in the sun on Sunday, the day afterreaching New York, Chen told CNN: "I have missed out for too long.".
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