Chen says China sanctions against family abating

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist whose flight to the US embassy in Beijing sparked a major diplomatic incident, said Thursday that sanctions against his family are waning.

"The extraordinary official surveillance and restrictions imposed on my family members who remain in our home village reportedly have started to abate," Chen said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

"The county police have even begun to make amends, offering to pay my brother for some of the furniture they broke during the vengeful attack on his family after they discovered my escape," he wrote.

Chen was sentenced to more than four years in prison in 2006 after exposing abuses in China's one-child policy and then placed under house arrest in the village of Shandong upon his release in September 2010.

The 40-year-old activist's escape from house arrest and his dramatic arrival at the US embassy in Beijing in April highlighted China's long-criticized human rights record.

It also sparked a diplomatic incident just as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting the Communist country, and Chen was eventually given notice to pack up his belongings and prepare for departure to New York, arriving in the city on May 19.

In his article, Chen calls for the release of his nephew Chen Kegui, whom he says was detained on April 26 for defending himself against 30 armed thugs linked to "local officials," during a raid on the family's farmhouse.

Police, he said, charged Chen Kegui with attempted murder for wounding three of the attackers with a kitchen knife.

"If instead of being investigated for their misdeeds, local authorities are allowed to prosecute Kegui, this will send a message to the world that Chinese officials are above the law," Chen concluded.

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