【 The New York Times 】   Post Date: 5/7/2012
Associates of Chen Still Being Persecuted
Author: Mark McDonald
Within days after a group of Chen Guangcheng's friends and supporters met in Beijing to discuss his situation, the central government started detaining human rights supporters.  Many were "disappeared" for months at a time, and one, Jiang Tianyong, was beaten so badly he lost hearing in one ear.
HONG KONG — The last time this happened, the last time he was grabbed by the Chinese authorities, he was “disappeared” for 60 days. Beatings, shouts, shackles, blindfolds, no sunlight. He said he was banged on the head so severely — typically with plastic bottles filled with water — that his memory began to slip. He couldn’t remember his Skype password or how the furniture was arranged in his bedroom back home.
So it scared his friends when Jiang Tianyong was detained last Thursday evening while trying to visit his friend Chen Guangcheng in a hospital in Beijing. Mr. Chen, the blind human rights advocate, had left the protection of the U.S. Embassy, and a major diplomatic wrangle over his future was taking place.
Mr. Jiang, a lawyer who has long supported Mr. Chen, had just been detained and was sitting in a police car when Eva Pils, an associate professor of law in Hong Kong, called his cellphone. Mr. Jiang told her about his situation — “very tense, naturally,” she said. Later, ominously, his phone went unanswered.
“He was held for nine hours and was severely beaten,” Ms. Pils said in an interview Monday. “At one point he lost the hearing in one ear. He’s now under house arrest. They promised he could see a doctor today. We’ll see if that happens.”
A former schoolteacher who became a trained and certified lawyer — unlike Mr. Chen who has no formal legal training — Mr. Jiang has had his legal license indefinitely suspended for his impertinence in confronting the government and defending, among others, Falun Gong members and a dissident Tibetan monk.
Mr. Jiang and Mr. Chen’s involvement in a loose network of human rights advocates and unlicensed quasi-lawyers known in China as “barefoot lawyers” was described in an article in 2005 by Jerome A. Cohen, a New York University law professor who remains a trusted adviser to Mr. Chen.
Mr. Jiang was among several colleagues, accomplices and like-minded activists who were picked up in the days following Mr. Chen’s daring and now-celebrated escape from house arrest last month. Beijing and Washington have apparently reached an agreement that will allow Mr. Chen and his family to travel to the United States so he can pursue legal studies.
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Key Words: Chen Guangcheng, human rights China, political dissidents China
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