China Aid Association
(Oct. 30, 2013) U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, (R-VA), has once again written Secretary of State John Kerry, asking Kerry to meet with the wife of imprisoned Chinese rights activist Gao Zhisheng. The letter can be found below:
Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2013) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, yesterday renewed his call for Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with the wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, a respected human rights lawyer.
In a letter to Kerry, Wolf, who last year “adopted” Gao as part of the Defending Freedoms Project, an initiative launched by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in conjunction with Amnesty International and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, pointed to a recent piece in the Washington Post that similarly calls for high-ranking U.S. officials to meet with Chinese dissidents and their families who “can speak with unique authority about the persecution they continue to face in China.”
The opinion piece, written by Jared Genser, whose Freedom Now legal advocacy organization provides pro bono representation to several Chinese dissidents in their families, including Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xiaobo, argues that a meeting with Kerry and President Obama would “in particular, make clear that the United States views human rights as a central component to its foreign policy.”
Wolf renewed his call for a meeting with Gao’s wife as well as Chen Guangcheng and other prominent dissidents and their families “thereby elevating human rights and religious freedom in our bilateral relations with China, and restoring hope to the thousands who suffer daily under house arrest and unjust imprisonment.”
Wolf previously wrote Kerry last February urging that he meet with Gao’s wife, and then later joined with several House members, including House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in writing a separate letter in May about Chen Guangcheng’s case, which echoed a similar request for a meeting.
To read more about Wolf’s work on this topic, click here.
The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C St NW Ste 7276
Washington DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
I again write to you regarding the case of imprisoned Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, who I “adopted” last December as part of the Defending Freedoms Project, an initiative launched by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in conjunction with Amnesty International and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.On February 15, 2013, I sent you a letter urging you to “publicly and privately raise the case of Gao Zhisheng – a man who has suffered greatly at the hands of his own government solely for proclaiming his Christian faith and defending the persecuted.” I also encouraged you to meet with Gao’s wife, Geng He, “who now resides in the U.S., to hear first-hand the suffering that her husband and family have endured over several years.” I concluded, “It is painfully clear that our current approach to China is not working. Quiet diplomacy, whereby grave human rights and religious freedom abuses are reportedly discussed in private meetings but rarely, if ever, raised publicly, has not yielded results and has in fact emboldened the oppressors.” This remains true today.
Jared Genser, founder of Freedom Now, which provides pro bono counsel to the families of several prominent Chinese dissidents, including Gao, authored a piece in the Washington Post on October 27 which plainly states that Beijing feels comfortable “flouting its legal obligations to its own people” and “lying to the international community.” Genser concluded, and I couldn’t agree more, that “…continued inattention only breeds more persecution, a new strategy is desperately needed.” The complete op-ed is enclosed, but among the recommendations that Genser makes is for “…the U.S. administration to meet with Chinese dissidents and their families who can speak with unique authority about the persecution they continue to face in China. Meetings with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, in particular, make clear that the United States views human rights as a central component of its foreign policy.”
To my knowledge, more than eight months after my initial correspondence, you have failed to meet with Geng He. In a separate letter in May I joined with several other Members of the House, including Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, in urging you to meet with Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing. This request too fell on deaf ears. As such, I renew this call in the hopes that such a meeting with prominent dissidents and their family members would take place in the very near future, thereby elevating human rights and religious freedom in our bilateral relations with China, and restoring hope to the thousands who suffer daily under house arrest and unjust imprisonment. Such a meeting would be especially timely given China’s pursuit of a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council this November – yet another mockery of the council’s stated mission.
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