“China will undergo a transformation, this is inevitable and in fact this has already begun,” said Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the Oslo Freedom Forum this week.
Chen added, “we cannot wait for democracy, freedom and equality to come from the outside.”
Chen achieved international prominence because of his long fight against sterilizations and abortions linked to the nation’s one-child policy. After his dramatic escape from house arrest last year, he now lives in New York with his family.
According to the South China Morning Post:
Chen told his audience in Oslo that relatives remaining in China were facing persecution because of his activities and accused Beijing of not living up to its promise to ensure the safety of his family.
He pointed out that more than 200,000 protests were recorded in China every year, while there was also growing mobilisation of dissenting voices on the Internet.
“There is nothing to fear from a washed-up ruling power that has lost its moral, ethical and legal foundations,” he said.
“The idea that civil society’s human rights values are not suitable for China is purely a myth that is propagated by the authoritarian regime and its attempt to hold on to power.”
In an interview with the Atlantic, Chen spoke of the continued pressure his family is facing since he left the country:
The persecution has never stopped. They punctured the tires of [family members’] cars. They’ve thrown bricks and rocks through their windows. My nephew was put in jail. The phone line was cut at my mothers’ house. Perhaps the reason is that this is the one-year anniversary since I escaped from China. Perhaps people went crazy over this. I think they also see that I’m making a lot of talks, I say things they hate to hear.
It does not affect me. 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.
Chen was listed as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine in 2012.