China Aid Association
(Washington, D.C.–May 10, 2013) In the month since blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng told a Congressional hearing that the Chinese government was ignoring its promise not to harm his family members, persecution against Chen’s relatives has intensified and ChinaAid is helping Chen appeal for action against these government-sanctioned acts of retaliation.
At an April 9 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, Chen reminded the U.S. government that the bilateral agreement reached a year ago to allow Chen and his family to leave China for the United States included a promise by the Chinese government that no harm would come to his extended family and asked that the two governments release the terms of agreement so that China could be held accountable.
Chen also submitted for inclusion in the Congressional Record the names of the 44 central and local government officials that have engaged in long-term persecution against him and his family and that they all be included in a “List of Persecutors Banned from Entering the United States.” His requests were granted by committee chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ).
Not long after this hearing, Chen’s family members in Shandong province were targeted for even more organized and unmistakable acts of retaliation. His nephew Chen Kegui, illegally sentenced by the Chinese Communists, is ill with acute appendicitis in the prison, but has been refused appropriate medical treatment, and his eldest brother Chen Guangfu’s house was attacked for several days in a row and he was violently beaten; Chen’s sister-in-law and his third brother and other people have been summoned by police and could face criminal charges.
See our earlier reports:
In response to the increased retaliation. ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu rushed to Washington, D.C. to meet up with Chen, who had just returned from a visit to Germany, and together they made the rounds to appeal for help.
On the morning of April 25, Fu and Chen met with Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt and other Post editors and told them that since Chen came to the United States a year ago, many of his family members in his hometown in Shandong province have been the target of various forms of retaliation, especially by the 44 Chinese officials he mentioned at the hearing who are serious human rights violators. He expressed his anger at the Chinese government for totally disregarding and failing to implement the agreement reached between the Chinese government and the U.S. government and he also expressed disappointment with the U.S. government for being silent and failing to take action. (The Washington Post‘s report is here: http://www.chinaaid.net/2013/04/blog-post_27.html)
At noon, Fu, Chen and Chen’s wife met with Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and another congressman, both of whom expressed their concern over the retaliation against Chen’s family and said they would call on the U.S. government to show its concern and intervene. After that, they met with Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.
In the afternoon, the trio met with Congressman Mr. Rick Larsen (D-Wa.), founder and co-chairman of the Congress’ U.S.-China Working Group, and a core member of the Human Rights Caucus and the Internet Caucus. (photo left)
At 4:30 p.m., Fu and Chen attended the annual meeting of the American Bar Association’s Section for International Law. First, Fu talked about ChinaAid’s efforts to promote freedom of religion and progress in China’s legal system and the challenges and dangers faced by rights defense lawyers and legal and human rights activists due to government suppression. Fu pointed out the heavy price paid by Chen, his wife and his family for protecting human rights and advancing the rule of law.
Then Chen spoke to the nearly 500 legal professionals from all over the world while Fu translated. Chen’s speech moved everyone, and when he finished, the audience gave him a one-minute standing ovation. The chairman personally pinned a membership badge on Chen and said he was now a member and hoped he would work with all of them in promoting human rights worldwide. (Photos above)
The next day at 11 a.m., Fu, Chen and his wife met with Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. When Wolf learned of the serious situation of Chen’s family, he immediately called Joseph Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and demanded that high-ranking officials in Washington discuss the matter with the Chinese government. Chen was deeply impressed with Wolf’s quick response and speedy action. (Photos above)
At 2 p.m., the three met with House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. When she learned of the worsening situation of Chen’s family, Pelosi promised to continue to monitor the situation and to urge President Obama and his administration to take real action to intervene in the escalating retaliation against Chen’s family members.
At an April 30 press conference in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell expressed the administrations deep concern about the situation and called on the Chinese government to treat Chen’s family “fairly and with dignity.”
He said, “First of all to say that promoting greater respect for human rights is among our top foreign policy objectives, including with China. We remain deeply concerned by reports of Chen Kegui’s mistreatment in prison, and of his acute medical condition. We have consistently raised his case with the Chinese Government. We call on the Chinese authorities to treat him according to China’s international commitments to protect universal human rights and make sure he receives proper medical treatment. We also remained deeply concerned by credible reports that local authorities continue to harass Chen Kegui’s family members in his home village. So we urge the Chinese authorities to stop harassment of his family and to treat them fairly and with dignity.”
He added that the U.S. government has not ignored the situation of Chen and his family members, saying, “I do want to remind people that both Secretary Kerry and Deputy Secretary Burns raised his case with Chinese leaders in Beijing this month. Secretary Kerry reiterated that in his Congressional testimony. And the U.S. Embassy and officials in Washington, we’ve reiterated our concerns with the Chinese Government and called for Chen Kegui to be given immediate medical attention. And Ambassador Locke underscored again our position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just today.”
Also on April 30, the New-York based human rights group Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling on China’s central government and Shandong provincial authorities to provide medical treatment to Chen Kegui. China director Sophie Richardson said: “To deny him appropriate treatment reflects at best incompetence and at worst a twisted effort to torment the Chen family.”
On May 2, State Department spokesman Ventrell again expressed great concern over Chen Kegui’s situation, saying” And we have consistently raised Chen Kegui’s case with the Chinese Government. And just to say that when I spoke to the Secretary this morning, he again expressed his concern with the case.” He added, “When he was on the Hill he testified about having raised the case with the Chinese, and he intends to do so directly again with the Chinese leadership.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/02/us-china-activist-usa-idUSBRE94117O20130502?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews)
ChinaAid cautiously welcomes the U.S. State Department’s public statements and is encouraged by some of the actions taken by the Obama administration. Human rights is not bound by national borders, and we hope the U.S. government can continue to uphold the principles of the Founding Fathers in pursuing freedom and justice in a way that the American people can be proud of, never yielding to evil forces or compromising with autocratic dictatorships that challenge universal human rights.
It is time to take forceful actions against China, whose human rights record is steadily deteriorating and where the rule of law continues to degrade. We call on the international community to continue to closely monitor what happens with Chen Chen Guangcheng’s extended family. At the same time, this is our message to the Chinese government: a nation that does not keep its promises can never become a powerful nation and a society without rule of law will absolutely not achieve stability and harmony. We hope the Xi Jinping-Li Keqiang can usher in some real progress, or at least not walk further down the wrong road of Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao government. Otherwise, the Chinese dream will be nothing more than talking in one’s sleep.
Bob Fu, President | Mark Shan, News Analyst
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