An Oscar winning Hollywood star got a taste of China’s heavy-handed treatment Thursday when he tried to meet a Chinese human rights activist detained at his home in a village barely 80 kms from the nation’s capital.
A video clip of the incident shows popular Hollywood actor Christian Bale being roughed up and pushed away by Chinese security guards as he attempts to cross a checkpoint leading to Dongshingu village, where Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist is being held under house arrest.
“As Christian Bale approached an impromptu checkpoint leading to this tiny village in eastern China, four men blocking the narrow path started marching toward him in menacing unison,” reported CNN, whose camera crew were accompanying the ‘Batman’ star on his call.
In the video, Bale is heard repeating – “I am here to see Chen Guangcheng,” “Why can I not visit this free man?” – as relentless Chinese guards shout “Go away” and push Bale and his crew back.
“What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is,” Bale later tells the camera as his car is being chased away by Chinese security vans.
40-year-old Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer has been placed under house arrest along with his wife, mother and daughter, and watched around the clock by dozens of guards since his release from prison in September 2010.
In 2006, the blind civil rights activist was sentenced to four-and-a-half years of imprisonment by a local Chinese court on charges of “damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic.” His legal defenders and supporters maintain that the authorities used trumped-up charges to silence Chen, who rose to fame in the late 1990s after he took on the case of thousands of local women who had been victims of harsh illegal measures by local authorities, enforcing the one-child policy that included forced sterilisations and abortions.
Although the case was rejected, Chen’s imprisonment and continued house arrest received huge publicity and sympathy from inside China as well as from world leaders including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gary Locke, the American ambassador to China.
Bale, who is in China to promote his latest film, is now amongst the scores of journalists, diplomats, and rights lawyers who have made the journey to Dongshigu but have been pushed away and not allowed to meet Chen.
Reacting to the video clip, Dharamshala based Tibetan singer, Jigme wondered, “When Chinese security guards don’t even think twice before roughing up a famous Hollywood actor who is accompanied by a CNN camera crew, I cannot even begin to think how severely our brothers and sisters must be tortured in Tibet by the Chinese officials.”