Rep. Chris Smith Holds More Hearings to Free Chinese Human Rights Hero Chen GuangchengMay 18, 2012 No Comments
May 18, 2012 / MariaNews.com
Chris Smith Holds More Hearings to Free Chinese Human Rights Hero Chen Guangcheng
Chen defended thousands of women from the ongoing, most egregious systematic state-sponsored exploitation and abuse of women in human history-pervasive forced abortion and involuntary sterilization as part of China’s one child per couple policy-and has suffered torture, cruel and degrading treatment, unjust incarceration, and multiple beatings as a result.
WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - On May 6, 2012, in an article entitled Free Chen, Free China, Free the Children in the Womb from Forced Abortion, I reported on the heroic work of Chen Guangcheng and the request this hero made for he and his family to receive asylum in the United States during the visit of our Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to China.
Since the initial news stories surrounding the incident there has been little coverage of Chen. He is under what amounts to house arrest in a Chinese hospital. His extended family is being beaten and threatened. Just as the focus at the beginning of the month was on who botched the affair diplomatically, rather than the important underlying issues, there seems to be little concern for the ongoing abuse of human rights of Chen and his family.
Chen is a 40 year old Chinese citizen who taught himself the law and, as a human rights lawyer, courageously stands up against the evil, inhumane and barbaric forced abortion and sterilization policies of the Peoples Republic of China. He is a human rights hero!
Perhaps the lack of coverage has to do with the fact that his defense of pregnant women from forced abortions, fertile women from forced sterilizations, and innocent children from death by abortion is not politically correct in the United States. After all, we fail to hear the cry of the poorest of the poor, children in the womb in our own Nation. We actually call killing them through procured abortion a “right”.
Chen was released from jail in China in 2010 and placed under house arrest. He and his wife have been regularly beaten by plain clothes government goons and the beating has now intensified. Chen is physically blind, but sees the truth of what is happening in China better than many of our own government leaders who have the full use of their faculty of sight.
He has been praised by those truly concerned about violations against fundamental human rights in mainland China. Chen’s plight broke into our National news when he heroically escaped a brutal house arrest and sought asylum in the United States Embassy in April. He made an impassioned plea for help from the government of the United States. To date, we have not properly responded.
Congressman Chris Smith is an exception; this courageous Catholic has stood strongly on behalf of fundamental human rights for years. He has never backed down in his condemnation of the Chinese Communist regime. It was no surprise to me that, as this story unfolded on Thursday, May 3, 2012, Chen called the US Congress and spoke to Congressman Chris Smith, in a live hearing through an interpreter!
It is no surprise to me that this tenacious defender of human rights refuses to let this vital story – and the plight of this hero – fade from public attention. The “one child policy” in China is overlooked by some members of Congress; even some who claim to be Pro-Life. Not by Chris Smith, because he is morally coherent.
Chris Smith knows that the Pro-Life position is not simply a “religious” position – it is a human rights position. He is a human rights hero. He does not compromise on fundamental human rights in order to promote economic agendas. That is the reason why he is one of my heroes and why I sincerely hope he seeks further high office. America needs this kind of public servant desperately in this desperate hour.
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, Congressman Smith once again held hearings to keep the focus on the plight of Chen. A full report can be found on his excellent web site. Here are some excerpts:
“Chen Guangcheng is among the bravest defenders of women’s rights in the world,” Smith said. “Chen defended thousands of women from the ongoing, most egregious systematic state-sponsored exploitation and abuse of women in human history-pervasive forced abortion and involuntary sterilization as part of China’s one child per couple policy-and has suffered torture, cruel and degrading treatment, unjust incarceration, and multiple beatings as a result.”
“The sheer magnitude of this exploitation of women has been largely overlooked and trivialized by many-and even enabled. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has for over 30 years supported, defended, and whitewashed the crimes against women and children Chen struggled to expose. That’s why President Reagan and more recently President Bush defunded the UNFPA. In an indefensible reversal, the Obama Administration has provided approximately $165 million to the UNFPA.”
After listening to a panel of witnesses testify on human rights abuses in China, Smith announced contact with Chen was made.”Mr. Chen, you are on-welcome back,” said Smith, Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights. The event was broadcast live by CSPAN.
“I just want to talk about what had happened to my other family members after I escaped from my own home,” Chen told the panel through a translator. “On April 26th around midnight, there was a group of thugs [of] the Chinese local authorities, [who] just broke into my home, and started beating them violently. And my elder brother was taken away by these thugs and without any reasoning, and then they came back and started beating up on my nephew, Chen Kegui. They used sticks and violently beat him up. For three hours he was bleeding on his head and face-it would not stop.”
Smith likened Chen’s confinement at a Beijing hospital to house arrest as Chen awaits documentation to travel to the U.S. with his wife and two children. He said the hearing was intended to focus on Chen’s cause.
“Following his escape from house arrest, Chinese officials started breaking into the homes of his family in the same village and rounding up those who may have assisted him for interrogations,” Smith said at the hearing. “When local officials and thugs broke into the home of Mr. Chen’s brother, Mr. Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui reportedly tried to defend himself with a kitchen knife. He is now in a police detention center. I am extremely concerned for his welfare, as well as that of Mr. Chen’s other extended family members. Now, eleven days later, Mr. Chen is still in the same hospital room, with his wife and two children under de facto house arrest.” Click here to read Smith’s opening remarks.
When Smith asked him if the U.S. Embassy had been able to make contact with extended family and friends who are at risk, Chen said, “I’m not very clear on the specifics,” but that the U.S. embassy has been communicating with him every day. “Because my wife and children have been under such a long time of difficulties with malnutrition, low blood pressure, when I see them under these circumstances, I felt very saddened.
“I want to extend my gratitude and thankfulness to all those who care and love my family and myself and our situation, especially to the American people who show they care about the policies and justice-those are universal values-I am very, very grateful to all of you,” Chen said. “I’m not a hero. I am just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent. I cannot be quiet when facing this evil against women and children. This is what I should do.”
The hearing, entitled, “Chen Guangcheng: His Case, Cause, Family, and Those Who are Helping Him,” featured human rights leaders determined to assist Chen by speaking out at an open hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.
In an unplanned live call-in to a May 3 hearing of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Chen testified by phone about his concerns. Within hours, the Chinese government announced that Chen could apply to travel to the United States. Chen is currently at a hospital in Beijing, still awaiting necessary travel documents. There is growing international concern about reports that Chinese officials are retaliating against his extended family and supporters.
As he did on May 3, Bob Fu, himself a former political prisoner and now Founder and President of the ChinaAid Association, made contact with Chen during the hearing.
“Recently, when lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Teng Biao tried to visit Chen Guangcheng in hospital, they were both beaten and Jiang lost the hearing in one ear,” said Bob Fu. Fu told the panel that despite the fact that the two sides have reached a well publicized agreement on Chen’s freedom and security, Chen remains under house arrest in hospital, and his visitors are barred, tailed and beaten.
“Chen Guangcheng has paid an extremely heavy price to defend the rights of the disadvantaged groups who were the victims of coercive population control measures (mainly women). His conscience, courage and spirit has been like a light shining in the long dark night of China’s human rights, and also inspiring people around the world who are struggling for human rights and justice.” Click here to read Mr. Fu’s testimony.
Wei Jingsheng, a former political prisoner and today Founder and Chair of Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition, cautioned the panel about the challenges when negotiating with the Chinese Communist regime. “They are only restrained by their interests, but not bound by their promises. That is because, fundamentally, they do not recognize common knowledge and reason, but only their great ideals.”
Mei Shunping, who became pregnant a number of times but was forced to have multiple abortions at the hands of the Chinese government, testified to the brutality of the one child policy which destroyed her life and marriage. “In 1999, I escaped the country that humiliated and destroyed me, and came to the free soil of America.”
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