The 6-year-old daughter of a blind Chinese activist under unofficial house arrest has been barred from leaving her home and is unable to attend school, another activist said Tuesday.
Chen Guangcheng and his wife have been confined to their home by authorities in their village in Linyi city in eastern China's Shandong province since he was released from prison last fall. Reporters trying to visit them have been forced away by men patrolling his village.
Since Feb. 24, the couple's daughter has not been allowed to leave the house and her books and toys have been taken away, according to He Peirong, a rights activist who has been detained in the past for trying to visit Chen.
"I was told by local officials ... that the girl has a right to an education and they would give us an answer by Sept. 1 as to whether she will go to school," He told The Associated Press by telephone. "Now that school has started, it is obvious she has not been able to attend. Her education is the most important thing right now to her parents, and they are very concerned."
A man who answered the phone at the Communist Party office of Yinan county, where Linyi is located, said they weren't aware of the situation and quickly hung up the phone.
Calls to the Yinan county and Linyi city education bureaus in Shandong rang unanswered Tuesday.
He, who has kept in contact with Chen through sources close to the family, said Chen's son moved away from his parents at a young age to live with his grandmother and is now enrolled in fifth grade.
Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper also reported that Chen's daughter, Chen Kesi, was not allowed to attend school. The paper quoted an unnamed official in Linyi who said she met the entry requirements and there was no reason she should not be allowed to attend.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was blinded by a fever in infancy, angered authorities after documenting forced late-term abortions and sterilizations and other abuses in his rural community. He was sentenced for instigating an attack on government offices and organizing a group of people to disrupt traffic, charges his supporters say were fabricated.
Jerome Cohen, a Chinese law expert at New York University, said the actions of the local government barring Chen's daughter from going to school violates educational rights.
"This is another sad development and has nothing to do with law except to note that this action violates the educational rights of parents and child under the Chinese constitution," Cohen said in an email to the AP. "Authorities in Linyi do not follow the law and are brutal and utterly shameless, and the provincial and central authorities simply let it all happen."
In February, Chen was beaten unconscious by local authorities and denied medical care about nine days after U.S.-based China Aid Association, a Christian rights group, released a video of him describing his house arrest.
Chen's wife detailed the incident in a handwritten letter that was smuggled out of the couple's tightly guarded home and posted on China Aid's website in June.
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