Rep. Smith: Chen Guangcheng’s appeal to China’s Premier reasonable
Chen Guangcheng’s appeal to China’s Premier Wen Jiabao to investigate and hold responsible all corrupt officials who systematically beat and tortured him, his family and friends is a “reasonable demand that the Chinese government, supported by the international community, especially the U.S., must meet” said Rep. Chris Smith, chairman of the Foreign Affairs human rights committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The Chinese government construed Chen’s compassion for women and unborn children as a crime,” said Smith who, since last October, has been repeatedly denied a visa by China to go there and visit Chen at his home where he was under house arrest.
“The eyes of the world are on Premier Wen Jiaboa, the Chinese government and U.S. diplomatic leaders—Secretary Hilary Clinton; Assistant Secretary of East Asian Affairs Kurt Campbell; and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Michael Posner—all of whom are in or are about to be in Beijing,” said Smith.
“Chen’s dramatic escape from his prison home in rural Shandong province underscores the depth of the danger facing his family and his need to once again—in the most conspicuous way possible—call the world’s attention to human rights abuses in China.
“The cruelty and extreme violence against Chen and his family brings dishonor to the government of China and must end,” Smith said.
“Perhaps it is a gift that so many U.S. leaders are there. They must push for human rights like never before,” said Smith who has held over three dozen hearings on human rights abuses in China.
Blinded by a childhood disease, Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught Chinese lawyer who began his legal advocacy career in 1996 educating disabled citizens and farmers about their rights.
Decades later, when local villagers started coming to him with their stories of forced abortions and forced sterilizations, Chen and his wife Yuan Weijing documented these stories, later building briefs and lawsuits against the officials involved.
Officials began a barbaric campaign against Chen and his family in 2005, after Chen criticized the brutality of the one-child policy in Linyi, Shandong province.
The Chinese government placed him under house arrest, convicted him on trumped-up charges and forced Chen to serve over four years in prison, despite serious health issues.
Over the years Chinese officials have subjected Chen and his family to beatings, extralegal detention, numerous violations of their rights under criminal procedure law, confiscation of their personal belongings, 24-hour surveillance and invasion of their privacy, disconnection from all forms of communication, and even denial of education for their six-year old daughter.
He escaped from house arrest last week.