ABOUT

THE CHEN GUANGCHENG FOUNDATION IS DEDICATED TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA 

Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, long persecuted for his activism, started the Chen Guangcheng Foundation along with his wife and a core group of supporters in 2014. The foundation goals are to support the overall advancement of human rights in China, including stopping persecution, supporting legal rights, and helping the disabled. 

The CGC Foundation is a tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit organization established in the State of New York. 

 

 MISSION STATEMENT 

The mission of the CGCF is to advance the development of freedom, human rights and rule of law in China, and to realize democratic constitutionalism in China, embracing universal values for the development of China. The activities of the corporation include grant-making, research and analysis in furtherance of its purposes such as: global dialogue; legal and humanitarian aid; cultural and intellectual exchange. 

 PEOPLE 

Chen Guangcheng 

Founder, Executive Director 

Yuan Weijing 

Founder, Board Treasurer/Secretary

 

Danica Mills 

Board Chair 

Christina Ho

Board Vice-Chair 

Yu Ying-shih 

Board Member

George Bruno

Attorney,  Former Ambassador

Dr. Sandra Cremers

Ophthalmologist

 
 

BIOGRAPHY OF CHEN GUANGCHENG

Chen Guangcheng, known to many as “the barefoot lawyer,” was born and raised in a poor, remote village in Shandong, China. Blind since infancy, illiterate until his late teens, he nonetheless taught himself law and became a committed advocate for tens of thousands of Chinese who were unable to speak out on their own. His work to bring justice to those facing persecution drew the notice of the authorities, leading to a period of harassment and detention that would last over seven years, including repeated house arrests, black jails, and over four years in prison. After twenty months of brutal detention in his own home, he escaped his village, later seeking safety at the American embassy in Beijing. High-level diplomatic negotiations secured his travel to the US, where he became a student at New York University Law School. 

Mr. Chen has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work from organizations around the world, including the The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership (2007), The Lantos Foundation Human Rights Prize (2012), Westminster Award, UK Parliament (2013), Geneva Summit Courage Award (2014), among many others. He currently holds positions as Visiting Fellow at the Catholic University of America, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. 

Mr. Chen’s memoir, 'The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China', was released by Henry Holt Publishers in 2015. 

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LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER

In China today, there is no justice to speak of, no ethics or thought guiding civil society. Human rights are trammeled on with impunity, while environmental destruction, pollution and corruption are all reaching a critical mass. Those who seek to protect human rights are detained, jailed, and often tortured or even killed while in the custody of the authorities. With no recourse to the law - and no rule of law to stop the abuse of power - popular resentment towards the continued rule of the Chinese Communist Party grows. 

However, I often say that when we see injustice occurring around us, our natural instinct is to react, to right the wrong. This has certainly been the case for me, beginning at a young age. I was left blind by an illness when I was an infant, and as a child growing up in a poor, remote village in Shandong, I faced crushing prejudice all around me. In rural China, disabled people are not accepted as functioning members of society, and there was no support for my education or well-being from the government. 

Through great effort and sacrifice on the part of my family, I finally left home to begin my education at age 18. However, I found the world beyond my village no less rife with injustices, and my experiences eventually inspired me to try to change the world around me. I believed the law the best possible tool for bringing social change, but as a blind person I was prevented from studying for a law degree. I learned what I could on my own, and began to help people facing persecution as best I could. Like me, these people were often among society’s most vulnerable: impoverished and disabled. To begin with it was an informal process: people sought me out at home in my village, and I would listen to their stories while sitting around our kitchen table. Then, with the help of sighted friends and family, I would begin to draw up materials for court cases. That was how I came to be known as a “barefoot lawyer.” 

Unfortunately, as my work continued, the Chinese authorities grew displeased with my efforts, and I became a target for government brutality. I was imprisoned for over four years, and later put in detention in my own home. Surrounded by webs of guards working 24 hours a day in our home and throughout my village, I and my family were subject to beatings, surveillance, deprivation of food and medical care, theft and prolonged psychological abuse. 

When I finally made an attempt to escape on my own in the spring of 2012, my family had no idea if they would ever see me again. By no small miracle I made it to safety - first to the US embassy in Beijing, then later to the US. 

After seven years of persecution, I now live in America with my family. However, my heart still burns to help the many victims of persecution still suffering in China: those ordinary people seeking justice under the law, including the poor and disabled, human rights activists and their families, and human rights attorneys. In addition, I desperately want Americans to understand the critical ways in which American society is influenced by the facade of China’s economic prowess, a story of corruption and greed having little to do with the well-being of everyday people. Americans need to know that there are actions we can take here that will have a positive and real effect on the ground in China - and that will make the US stronger as well. 

As one who has suffered personally at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party authorities, I feel I have a duty to try to help lay the groundwork for a future of China that will be more peaceful, ethical, and free for all. Hence I have established the Chen Guangcheng Foundation to encourage a greater understanding of multiparty systems and the rule of law, to support human rights activist and lawyers fighting for justice, and to awaken people in free nations of the world as to steps that can be taken to help move China - and thus the entire world - towards a path of greater stability and peace. 

At the core of these efforts is the living essence of the China I know and love, embodied in the goodness and strength of the common people. If we can stand together with everyday people seeking justice and peace, we will see a better China emerge, and the world will be a better place for all. It is with this goal in mind that I have created the Chen Guangcheng Foundation. 

As the foundation is in its infancy, I need your help to bring it to life. I invite you to connect with me and my team to learn more about us and how you can be a part of this grassroots effort. We need your support to get off the ground - together we can make a difference. 

Chen Guangcheng 

Founder, Executive Director