Class with The Barefoot Lawyer, Chen Guangcheng

By MA Student Fr. Ambrose Ekeroku

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese legal activist known as the “Barefoot Lawyer,” addressing MAHR students on Wednesday, 28 February 2024, shared a remarkable account of his daring escape from house arrest to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing skillfully aided by the U.S. Embassy Staff amid Chinese police pursuit. Imprisoned for four years on allegations that his activism led to over 88 million births, upon his release, he discovered his home transformed into a prison under 24-hour surveillance. His personal story and legal advocacy transformed him into a folk hero in Shandong, while also exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s hollow claims of adhering to the rule of law. 

Despite his escape, Chen’s supporters and the activists who aided him in reaching Beijing have faced repercussions, with many disappearing or being placed under house arrest. The deteriorating human rights situation in China reflects the growing awareness among citizens of their rights, fueled by increased access to information online. In response, the Communist Party has escalated its efforts to maintain control, using force to suppress dissent.

China’s media environment is among the most restrictive globally, relying on censorship to manage news, online content, and social media. The government employs tactics such as libel lawsuits and arrests to coerce journalists and media organizations into self-censorship.

Additionally, Chen revealed that China is establishing a secret police station within a provincial police agency to gather information on opponents of the ruling Communist Party worldwide. He, however, warned that if the world simply looks on, the Communist repressive regime will succeed in her sinister plans to dominate every country.