Standing in a Manhattan event space with cocktails and views of the Hudson, Chen Guangcheng was far removed from the countryside house that confined him for over a year and a half, before he captivated the world in April and May by escaping from house arrest in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, being taken in by the American Embassy in Beijing. Blind since childhood, Mr. Guangcheng climbed and felt his way past the guards posted around his home by the local authorities, who had imprisoned him for 51 months on charges largely considered to have been fabricated, before releasing him to his home. A self-taught, or “barefoot,” lawyer, he had irked the local authorities by legally challenging their unlawful land seizures, treatment of the disabled, pollution and incidents of forced abortions and sterilization to enforce the one-child policy.
The Chinese activist was surrounded by fellow lawyers on Wednesday night, though they were less likely to be from his village than from The Village, where, after some diplomatic tension between the U.S. and China, he now attends NYU Law School as a visiting scholar. Human Rights First, an organization that advocates the government for greater American leadership in fighting for global human rights, honored Mr. Chen at its annual awards dinner, held at Chelsea Piers’ Pier 60. Read More