Cover Story

Double jeopardy

"Double jeopardy" Continued...

Issue: "Blind exiled brave," Aug. 10, 2013

Chen by all accounts remains outraged by the abuses he discovered while traveling to rural villages in 2005. The cases he recorded included women enduring forced abortions, villagers hiding in fields from family planning officials, and authorities beating the extended family members of women who had violated the one-child policy. 

During his congressional testimony in April, when he held up a list of authorities who participated in forced abortions, Chen said: “These corrupt officials have blood on their hands.” 

Where or how Chen will continue his work remains unclear heading into the fall academic year. NYU spokesman Beckman said an anonymous donor had offered some financial assistance for Chen as he left the school. The Witherspoon Institute wouldn’t comment on its reported offer to Chen. 

Fordham University spokesman Robert Howe said an offer remained open for Chen to join the school as visiting scholar for one year, but he said the position would be unpaid: The donor who had pledged to fund Chen’s spot withdrew the offer in the wake of the NYU controversy. 

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Chen, said he couldn’t comment on whether Chen would apply for political asylum. (Corallo, a former Republican strategist, says he works for Chen pro bono through his Alexandria-based Corallo Media Strategies.) Since he entered the country on a student visa, it wasn’t clear what path he would pursue to remain in the country legally. The State Department also granted visas to Chen’s wife and two children, but it’s unclear what will be their status following the NYU stint as well.

But the blind attorney who taught himself the law and memorized rural Chinese footpaths so he could reach the victims of human rights abuses alone seems determined to continue. When a reporter asked Chen how persecution of his family back in China affects his work, Chen replied: “It strengthens my will to disclose the very evil and authoritarian nature of the Chinese regime. It makes me more determined to fight for human rights.” 

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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