She said that she received an unexpected email stating, “The bird has left its cage, what shall we do?” She immediately understood what it meant. At that time, she was in Beijing visiting friends. She replied, “message received, I am now in Beijing.” Along with Guo Yushan, a Beijing scholar, and others, she set off for Shandong and arrived at the suburbs of Linyi City at midnight after driving for 6 hours.
It remains a mystery who sent her the message and why she immediately knew what was hinted in the message. It seems to me that there is a secret network of sympathizers to provide assistance to dissidents.
She said that it took two hours to find Chen as she had no telephone contact with him. However, if no one had given her instruction about Chen’s approximate location, how could she have known which part of such large suburbs of the city she should go to search for Chen? She would have been looking for a needle in the haystack if no information about Chen’s approximate location had been given to her by phone. She said in addition there were other vehicles and another five people who came to rescue Chen.
However, in order to protect other participants and those who gave the information, she did not disclose their names and identities or the specific area in Linyi suburbs where Chen was found.
When she met Chen, Chen was already hiding in the field for 17 hours, but his clothes are clean and decent though he broke his leg when scaling a wall. It seemed to her that Chen was being satisfactorily taken care of. She had not contacted Chen by phone and had never met Chen but Chen knew that some one named “pearl” was to come to take him away from Shandong. When Chen was helped into the car, he said, “You are Pearl, aren’t you? Thanks, thanks a lot.”
Since Chen was placed under house arrest in September 2010, He Peirong has issued a statement everyday on the Internet. She went to Chen’s village six times to visit him, but was hindered by the guards each time. It was the first time she met Chen when she picked up Chen in Shandong.
Chen’s acquaintance Liu Meiyuan, head of the Beijing branch of the American news website the Daily Beast, described Chen’s escape as an event filled with danger and thrill. Chen had to scale quite a few surrounding walls in dark evening and in the darkness of a blind man and had broken one of his legs when he was out. He could not walk and had to climb on the ground. He had to stop and wait in fear whenever he heard any noise of people approaching him until he heard that they had gone away.
It is obvious to me that Chen was helped by others in leaving his house and going away to hide in the suburban area of Linyi City. Otherwise, he would not have appeared clean and in good spirit. He Peirong believed that Chen was given shelter by some one and had had some rest before she met Chen. She said that she kept on contacting human rights activists abroad and asking them to seek assistance from US Department of State and Congress.
As for China, even in the darkest era of the Cultural Revolution, there were good people willing to help others. I gave a story in my book out of my personal experience of bystanders preventing four rebels from illegally arresting a man. I myself was secretly helped by my two interrogators when I was placed under house arrest and told to inform against my father. Mine was a sad story but compared to the experience of those much more miserable than me, I do not think it is worth telling. However, it is a pity that to avoid the painful memory of past sufferings, so far none of those people have written their true stories.
He Peirong’s personal experience also proved that. She said that when she announced Chen’s escape from Shandong on April 27, she was soon taken away by the authorities from her home in Nanjing and placed under house arrest for a week in a hotel, but the policemen guarding her were friendly. Everyday, they asked her how she brought Chen away, how many people took part in it, whether there had been any prior planning and what was the plan.
She and Guo Yushan watched along with three guards “The Shawshank Redemption”, a film about a thrilling escape from prison. At the end of the film, she told the policemen that she wanted to tell them a story more thrilling than the film. She then began to tell them the unbelievable story of Chen Guangcheng’s escape.
- China dissident’s escape “more exciting than Shawshank Redemption” (chinadailymail.com)
- Blind activist escapes from house arrest (chinadailymail.com)
- China dissident Chen says officials must face justice (dailystar.com.lb)