Respected Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Dear Friends :
I am Yuan Weijing, the wife of the blind human rights defender Chen Guangcheng, and I want to express my great gratitude to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for honoring my husband with the "Emergent Leadership Award".
As of this moment, Guangcheng is incarcerated in Linyi prison in China’s Shandong Province. There, no special care is given to visually impaired inmates. The authorities have further illegally deprived him of the means to read and write, and to listen to the radio, and are denying him other basic rights. His fellow prisoners were told that they were not allowed to have conversations with him. Being isolated in this way, I can imagine how happy, comforted and encouraged Guangcheng will feel to know that he has won this award.
Guangcheng believes in the rule of law. He has faith in law and justice. He has always worked with dedication on making the law on the books also respected in practice in China. Being visually impaired and a peasant as well, he has been particularly concerned about the basic rights of the disabled and the rural population. In China, our government is often the biggest violator of people’s rights. Because Guangcheng engaged in helping peasants to safeguard their rights, he became the target of a retaliatory strike by some corrupt government officials. Naturally, I was very worried about his safety and at that time I even urged him to stop with this work, in order to avoid danger. Guangcheng said: "How many people are complaining about injustice in society? Yet how many people think about what they have done to challenge or redress such injustice? Every little progress in society is the result of someone driving that effort. If we work hard, it is possible to achieve change; if not, it will be impossible."
At present, he is serving a 4 years and 3 months prison sentence, the result of a conviction based on trumped-up charges and a flawed trial process. I was myself unlawfully kept under house arrest for two years by the authorities of Linyi in Shandong Province. Having fled from there to Beijing, I still face the danger of being kidnapped and taken back anytime. Prior to leaving, I went to prison to visit Guangcheng. He comforted his family and friends by assuring us that we need not feel sorry for him, and that we should think of him as just having left town for a while on a human rights mission. While in prison, he still uses the law to safeguard his and the other prisoners’ rights.
I am very happy that Guangcheng’s efforts have received recognition and encouragement from the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and from other like-minded friends. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the lawyers and human rights defenders who risked their lives in providing legal assistance; to friends who still went to Linyi to show solidarity and support after having been stripped of their shirts and beaten by the police, and even having been subjected to house arrest; to the good and upright villagers who were kidnapped, tortured to extract statements supporting the trumped-up charges against my husband, and even themselves sentenced, all on account of Guangcheng’s case; to the friends in the media who reported the truth to help Guangcheng; and to the friends who are working hard toward Guangcheng’s release from detention/regaining his freedom.
I regret that I could not be present at this awarding ceremony to personally congratulate the six other awardees. I am proud of my husband and of all of you.
I and my children pray for Guangcheng’s early return home!
Beijing, 2 August 2007