Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng, whose dramatic escape from house arrest grabbed world headlines in April, has appealed to China’s new Communist leader Xi Jinping to carry out reforms and defend human rights.
Chen, who is now based in the US, said in an online video that if the new leadership fails to protect human rights, it could impact the Communist Party of China‘s (CPC) grip on power.
Chen recalled the many victims of the Communist regime that he left behind, beginning with his immediate family.
The government's "acts of revenge against my nephew Chen Kegui and other friends and family are still going on. Chen Kegui, who tried to defend our family and was acting in self-defense, is still in jail," Chen noted.
Chen Kegui was sentenced last week to a 39-month jail term for wounding at least one policeman when police burst into his home in a night-time raid searching for Chen Guangcheng.
Chen’s video was released online by New York-based human rights group, ChinaAid on Sunday.
Chen’s escape from long-time house arrest and his taking refuge at the US embassy in Beijing had triggered a diplomatic row between China and the US. After days of ambiguity, Chinese authorities allowed Chen to migrate to the US to study.
But soon after he had fled from house arrest, the homes of his relatives including that of his nephew were raided.
Chen said: “The whole nation is watching you. Whether you follow the mandate of heaven and the will of the people and carry out reform or you hijack the government and protect the privileged [i.e. those in power] foretells whether our motherland will go through a peaceful or a violent transition.”
“Can the international community continue to turn a blind eye to the intractable forces of the ruling Chinese Communist Party protecting its autocratic rule and unhesitatingly inflicting on the people all sorts of violence? How is it that the leaders of democratic countries remain indifferent in the face the flow of the blood and tears of the victims, of each and every Tibetan who has died through self-immolation?” Chen asked. "Citizens of the world with a conscience ought to respond by speaking out for justice.”