In an apartment surrounded by gardens in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York, the Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng Sunday began his new American life, enjoying a bittersweet freedom thousands of kilometers away from the country he wanted to change from the inside.
Chen’s family is settled in a building of the New York University (NYU) who offered him a scholarship to study law. At the foot of the building, children’s games facilities should bring happiness to his 6 year old daughter and her 8 year old son.
For his first day, he had nothing special planned, according to his entourage.
On his arrival in New York, Chen Guangcheng, smiling, took the time to talk to the press, a freedom he would not have imagined in isolation from his village of Dongshigu in Shandong Province, where he was still under house arrest a month ago.
The blind self-taught lawyer, made especially famous for exposing the campaigns of sterilization and forced abortions in China, expressed his gratitude to the U.S. embassy – where he found refuge in Beijing shortly after his incredible escape from his village in late April – and also thanked the Chinese authorities have handled the situation “with restraint and calm.”
But he also expressed concern that the “retaliation does not appear to have declined” in his village, where there are still members of his family. “We hope a thorough investigation into this,” he added.
“I think the central government’s promises are true and they do not lie to me,” he added. Chen also mentioned that Chinese authorities had promised to “protect their rights as citizens in the long term.”
Arriving in New York with his wife and their children, after Beijing had finally decided to let them go, Chen had repeatedly said before his departure he would not be granted asylum in the U.S. – he got passport and visa for studies – and he hopes to return to China as soon as possible.
Saturday night, he seemed more aggressive than ever, calling to “continue the fight for good in the world and against injustice.” “Equality and justice have no borders,” he added.
But according to advocates of human rights, nothing says he can easily return to his country.