Wife fears for activist's health

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 1994, 12:00am

PROMINENT dissident Chen Ziming may be prevented from receiving cancer treatment because of high medical bills and constant police harassment, according to his wife.

Wang Zhihong said she was unable to work and her husband was not allowed to exercise regularly because of constant surveillance by Beijing police.

Since Mr Chen's release from prison five months ago, the 42-year-old has been under virtual house arrest and has not been allowed any visitors.

Ms Wang was also followed whenever she left home, she said.

'How can I go to work if the public security officers follow me to the office? Before, I used to take orders such as typing at home, but now nobody can enter our home under the surveillance and where can I get the clients?' she said.

The family now relies on relatives' loans.

Mr Chen, who served five years of a 13-year-term for 'instigating the 1989 pro-democracy movement', had an operation about two weeks ago to remove a cancerous tumour from his urinary system.

In a letter to the Ministry of Public Security last week, Ms Wang urged the authorities to allow her husband to receive proper treatment.

The letter also said Mr Chen should be allowed the 'supplementary exercises' without police 'interference'.

She said her husband had not even been allowed to take a walk near their home.

Ms Wang said: 'He has not seen even one friend for five months. You know spirit and daily exercises are very important for the recovery of such patients like him.' They have spent about 5,000 yuan (HK$4,530) on his cancer operation, his wife said.

He will begin radiotherapy later this week but Ms Wang said they would have problems paying.

Mr Chen is recovering at home and has started a correspondence course in Chinese history with the University of Michigan in the United States.

According to a source close to the family, Mr Chen was finally allowed to take the course after the university agreed to waive a language test requirement.

Beijing police stopped Mr Chen from taking the test despite repeated appeals.

The source said it was important for Mr Chen to have proper medical attention but worried that the tight security arrangements might affect his chances of recovery.

'I respect Mr Chen's decision to stay in the country . . . But the situation has changed and we have to consider the seriousness of his illness and the way he is being treated,' the source said.

'The Government should ease off and let him have a normal life,' he said.