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Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural areas of the People's Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a "barefoot lawyer" who advocates for women's rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. He is best known for exposing abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions. In 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organising a landmark class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit, Chen was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, with a formal arrest in June 2006. During his trial, Chen's attorneys were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On 24 August 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic." He was released from prison in 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remained under house arrest or "soft detention" at his home in Dongshigu Village. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance in February 2011. (via Freebase)