Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's brother has said that local authorities destroyed evidence of abuse in his village, coinciding with reports that government surveillance, which turned the village into a prison to keep the activist under house arrest for two years, has ended.
Guangcheng's eldest brother Chen Guangfu said authorities in the northeast Shandong province had destroyed houses where supporters of his brothers had been tortured, Reuters reported.
Sparking diplomatic fallout between Beijing and Washington, Guangcheng, often described as a barefoot lawyer, escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. embassy in Beijing April 22. He has since been allowed to travel to the U.S. for studies.
The checkpoints, surveillance cameras and other measures, which remained in place in Dongshigu village even after Guangcheng's escape, were brought down Friday.
Guangfu said that people were free to go about their lives. However, even though the surveillance had been discontinued, crucial evidence pointing to human rights violations were buried by the authorities, he added. Not a shred of evidence is left after they've destroyed everything at the scene. Everything has been moved, Guangfu told Reuters in a telephonic interview.
The two guard posts that were built specially for putting Guangcheng under house imprisonment at the entrance of the village, he said. For the past two years, countless netizens (Internet supporters of Guangcheng) endured violent beatings in these houses.
Guangfu had earlier accused authorities of beating him up to extract information on how his brother escaped from house arrest.
He said he had tried initially not to implicate others for the escape of his sibling, but had to give away some names when it became impossible for him to resist the interrogation.
His son was charged with attempted homicide for trying to defend himself against torture from authorities. Guangfu had to flee the village following his brother's escape to seek legal help for his son.
He said authorities had asked him to keep a low profile and not to accept requests for media interviews, or contact lawyers or other supporters.
Guangcheng became an internationally known activist in 2005 when he organized a class-action lawsuit against the Chinese authorities for unlawful enforcement of the government's one-child policy through late-term abortions and unauthorized sterilizations. He was arrested in September 2005 and placed under house arrest for almost a year.
During his trial, his attorneys were denied access to the court leaving him without a trained legal defender. He was sentenced to over four years in prison for damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.
He was released in September 2010 to be kept under house arrest in his village, from where he escaped to seek refuge in the U.S. embassy.