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What China's dissidents are saying about Chen

By Gillian Wong

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 1:27 p.m. MDT

"Even if his family — that is, his wife, mother and children — were able to travel with him to the U.S., there would be no one to pursue those past injustices. In other words, the abuse and persecution he suffered would have been for nothing. Those criminal government officials would continue to act in an unfettered way, above the law. They would not have to shoulder any responsibility for their crimes. I feel that the Chen Guangcheng incident should be seen as an important opportunity, so I think there should be no rush, he should not hastily go to the United States, because from what I understand from meeting with him, I think that that is also not his personal desire and it's not what we think is the best way for him either."

YU JIE, a dissident writer and friend of Chen's who left China for exile in the United States last year after being detained and tortured by Chinese authorities, says he supports Chen's decision to leave:

"It is a better choice for him if he and his family are able to go to America. He has already left the embassy, and I think that was a very dangerous decision. I think the American officials have done a bad job. They should be aware that the danger that Chen Guangcheng faces in the future is very large. They should not have let him leave the embassy. ... It's a sign of the softness of Obama's attitude toward China. He has placed trade above human rights. One cannot blame Chen Guangcheng for changing his mind because in the days that he was in the embassy he was not able to talk to his friends to obtain more information, so on his own it would have been difficult for him to make an accurate assessment."

HUANG QI, a veteran activist who runs a rights monitoring group in the western province of Sichuan, says Chen is just one of many people in China who need the international community's support:

"We believe that in today's China, what happens to the millions of rights defending petitioners, the Falun Gong practitioners, the religious sufferers, and the political dissidents is still worthy of our in-depth attention. In this huge group of victims there are a lot of people who are still suppressed by the authorities, they are also in urgent need of international attention. Only when the whole society pays attention to the human rights situation in China, particularly long-term concern for the victims at the lowest levels of society, toward the weak ones who have no rights, no influence, no fame, only then can one truly promote the in-depth development of China's human rights movement and improve the rights situation."

LIU XIAOYUAN, a prominent rights lawyer in eastern China's Jiangxi province who has represented many dissidents including Ai Weiwei:

"This incident should not have happened in the first place. If China is really a country with rule of law, then how could a local government use illegal tactics to hold a person under house arrest for so long? This incident might prompt high-level officials in charge of so-called 'stability maintenance' to stop further restricting activists after they have been released from prison, because this will generate public attention and the activists will escape and seek help from foreign embassies. I hope the authorities will learn these lessons from this incident."

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