B eijing: Chen Guangfu, the brother of blind activist Chen Guangcheng has gone missing, a lawyer said.
According to reports he fled his village in northeastern China to seek help for his son who has been detained in a case that has become a rallying point among rights activists.
Chen Guangfu, the eldest brother of Chen Guangcheng, fled his home inShandongprovince and arrived inBeijingon Wednesday to seek legal help for his son, Chen Kegui, who is being held on an attempted murder charge.
He appears to have become the latest target of the government’s reprisals against Chen Guangcheng’s family in the wake of the blind activist’s escape from his village in late April after 19 months of detention at home.
Chen Guangcheng took refuge in theU.S.embassy, where he stayed for six days and sparked a diplomatic crisis betweenChinaand theUnited States. That crisis, which overshadowed a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was finally defused last Saturday whenChinaallowed Chen to fly to theUnited Statesto study.
Chen Guangfu did not return to his hotel room inBeijingon Friday night, Shandong-based lawyer Liu Weiguo told media.
Zhao Wei, aShandongsupporter of Chen Guangcheng’s family, was the last person to have contact with Chen Guangfu before they parted ways on Friday afternoon, Liu said.
“As of now, there’s still no news on Brother Guangfu,” Liu said. “We’re not optimistic. Guangcheng is also very worried. He’s contacting friends to look (for him).”
The news of Chen Guangfu’s disappearance comes three days after the 55-year-old farmer and odd job laborer recounted to media details of his own torture and reprisals by authorities since his brother’s escape.
Chen Guangfu said he was restricted from leaving his village and that police inShandongwarned him they would increase the sentence for his son, Chen Kegui, if he gave interviews.
His son, Chen Kegui, 32, was charged with “intentional homicide” for using knives to fend off local officials who burst into his home on April 27, the day after they discovered his blind uncle had escaped.
He could face the death penalty. His lawyers, denied access to him last week, said he did not kill anyone.
Michael Posner,U.S.assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said on Thursday theUnited Stateswas closely monitoring Chen’s family in China.
Chen Guangcheng urged authorities in Beijing on Thursday to prosecute “lawless” officials who harassed and abused the self-taught lawyer, his family and supporters, saying such prosecutions could help China establish rule of law.