In the current episode of Humanize, Wesley interviews Chen Guangcheng, an authentic human rights hero and adamant opponent of Chinese Communist Party tyranny that rules the People’s Republic of China.
Known internationally as “the barefoot lawyer,” Chen is a renowned human rights activist who fearlessly advocated for the welfare and rights of women, the disabled, and the poor while in China, and whom today, continues to carry the banner of human freedom in opposition to Chinese totalitarianism from the United States. Chen’s ardent and courageous human rights advocacy has received extensive international acclaim and has drawn heightened international attention to the maltreatment of women and abuses of China’s domestic policies, including forced abortions and sterilizations.
Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, in 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organizing a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit challenging the authorities, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.
He was released from prison in 2010, but remained under house arrest or “soft detention” at his home in Dongshigu Village. In April 2012, Chen escaped his house arrest and fled to the US Embassy. In May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City. He has lived in the United States ever since and became an American citizen last summer.
Among many other international acclaims, in 2006 Chen was named to the Time 100, which lists the most influential people in the world. He is a 2007 laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is often called the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia.
Currently, he is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Center for Human Rights at the Catholic University of America, where he is also on the faculty. He is the author of The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China.
Special thanks to William Saunders, Director of the Center for Human Rights, for helping with language issues during this interview.