SPIEGEL Interview with Chen Guangcheng 'I'm Not Free'


Part 2: 'They Tried to Make Life as Difficult as Possible for Us'

Chen: The guards forcibly prevented us from going outside, and they followed us everywhere. The people from the local state security broke into our house and beat my wife and me. They carried everything out of the house, even thermometers and flashlights. These were really unimportant items, but they took everything along. All the books, and the pictures on the walls -- they robbed us of everything. They didn't take the TV set, but they used pliers to destroy the plug, so that we were unable to get any reception. They tried to make life as difficult as possible for us.

SPIEGEL: It sounds like your escape from captivity was nothing short of a miracle.

Chen: Yes, heaven helped me.

SPIEGEL: How did you manage to escape unnoticed?

Chen: It's a long story. I crawled out of the house.

SPIEGEL: During your daring escape, you were picked up by helpers and taken to Beijing. Some were later interrogated or arrested.

Chen: I'm very worried about them. This clearly shows that all the talk about freedom is just empty words.

SPIEGEL: Did you discuss the situation of the people who helped you with the Americans?

Chen: Yes. They assured me that they would raise this issue with the Chinese side.

SPIEGEL: What do you know about the agreements on your protection that the Americans made with the Chinese government?

Chen: According to them, the Chinese side guaranteed my civil rights, and I was allowed to leave the embassy unchallenged.

SPIEGEL: But under this agreement the Americans cannot monitor what happens to your supporters?

Chen: No, apparently not. Some of the others are still being tortured.

SPIEGEL: Were you told why you were illegally held and mistreated in the last few years?

Chen: Now they're saying that my civil rights were violated, and that the local government broke laws and regulations. That, at least, is what the government told US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

SPIEGEL: Did you receive any written assurances from the United States or your own government?

Chen: No.

SPIEGEL: You were assured that you would be allowed to study at a Chinese university. Was that only a verbal commitment?

Chen: Yes.

SPIEGEL: In what city were you offered the opportunity to study?

Chen: They listed seven possible universities. I hadn't decided yet. I'm allowed to choose between Tianjin and … But let's forget that! It's pointless.

SPIEGEL: So you're no longer interested in attending a university in China?

Chen: That's right.

SPIEGEL: When you spoke with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the phone, you were reportedly so overjoyed that you said: "I want to kiss you." That, at least, is what Western media quoted American diplomats as saying.

Chen: They must have heard incorrectly. I didn't say I wanted to kiss Clinton. All I said, in English, was: "I want to see you." And that is what I want. I want to meet her.

SPIEGEL: Did you believe that Ms. Clinton would visit you?

Chen: She was already in Beijing when I was still in the embassy. But she didn't come to see me. That surprised me very much.

SPIEGEL: Do you still hope that the Americans will make additional commitments regarding your protection?

Chen: Of course I hope so.

SPIEGEL: But they haven't materialized yet?

Chen: I just got a call from them. They said that someone would come to see me later.

SPIEGEL: How long will you have to stay in the hospital?

Chen: I don't know.

SPIEGEL: Do you believe that your country will ever transform itself into a state based on the rule of law?

Chen: Yes, I think so. But it will still take massive efforts by many, many people to achieve that goal.

Correction: An earlier version of this interview incorrectly contained the sentence "A guard helped me." It should have read: "Heaven helped me."

Interview conducted by Wieland Wagner.


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