In October 2011, a campaign of support for blind self-taught lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) emerged on Chinese social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and QQ Weibo. Chen has remained under house arrest ever since his release from prison in September 2010 after serving a four-year sentence imposed by a local court in Shandong’s Linyi City. Chen was convicted in August 2006 of “malicious destruction of property and gathering a crowd to obstruct traffic” after campaigning on behalf of local villagers against forced sterilizations and other abuses of China’s family planning policies by Linyi authorities. A broad cross-section of Chinese — online and offline — have continued to push for justice for Chen, who has in recent years been one of the most enduring symbols outside China of the country’s human rights abuses. Inside China, meanwhile, Chen’s case was shrouded in silence for years. [Read CMP's analysis here.]
Many Chinese have been shocked by the brutality and apparent impunity of local officials and police in Linyi, who have turned Chen Guangcheng’s village of Dongshigu (东师古村) into a virtual militarized zone. In recent weeks and months, foreign diplomats, journalists, activists and concerned ordinary Chinese have been turned away violently by police and plainclothes thugs. In this cartoon, posted by artist Kuang Biao (邝飚) to his blog at QQ.com, a pack of growling dogs crowd into the road leading into Dongshigu Village, menacing anyone who dares to come by — but the name of the village on the signpost has been changed to the similar sounding “East Village of Corpses and Bones”.