Chen Guangcheng: An Open Letter to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Locke

May 1, 2012 07:57

Will you offer official protection to Chen, his family, and his key supporters who are now detained? Or will you continue to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party for our economic advantage?



The following open letter is submitted by Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers:


Dear President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Locke,


We call for official United States protection of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who dramatically escaped house detention and is now said to be at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. As of the writing of this letter, U.S. officials have not promised diplomatic protection for Chen or his family.


As Secretary Clinton travels to Beijing, the moral credibility of the United States on the world stage hangs in the balance. Chen Guangcheng is the Gandhi of our time. He is a man of inconceivable bravery. Poor, blind, beaten and detained, he nevertheless possesses the surpassing backbone to stand alone against the crushing brutality of the communist regime. He is the “Tank Man” against the One Child Policy. He has done this on behalf of the women of China, who for thirty-two years have suffered the unspeakable torture of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization at the hands of the barbarous Chinese population control machine. Chen Guangcheng is a warrior for women’s rights.


At great risk to himself, his family and a wide network of brave supporters, Chen has been delivered safely into our Embassy. Meanwhile, members of his family and key supporters have been beaten or detained.


The entire world is watching. Will you offer official protection to Chen, his family, and his key supporters who are now detained? Or will you continue to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party for our economic advantage? Inescapably, the choice you make will symbolize the character of our nation to the world.


Women’s Rights Without Frontiers calls upon you to use all diplomatic means to ensure safety for Chen Guangcheng, his family, and his key supporters who are currently detained, especially He Peirong, who rescued Chen and is a hero in her own right.


We also ask that you press for Chen’s requests that those who have been torturing and persecuting his family be brought to justice, and that corrupt officials who have received money for persecuting Chen be investigated and punished.


The American people — and the people of the world — cry out for freedom for Chen Guangcheng. If you deliver him back into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, he will no doubt be imprisoned, tortured, possibly killed. Would you use this noble man as a bargaining chip in trade talks? To do so would be to sell the soul of our nation.

– Reggie Littlejohn



Chen Guangcheng’s “bold and courageous” 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 (NJ-04), chairman of the Foreign Affairs human rights committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is a test of Premier Wen’s commitment to fundamental human rights, the rule of law, and common decency,” said Smith who recently convened a hearing in Washington, D.C. to spotlight the growing concern for Chen’s safety and that of his family.

“It is also a test of America’s resolve to safeguard human rights whenever and wherever those rights are violated,” said Smith, who authored an amendment adopted the Foreign Affairs Committee last year, calling on President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to specifically highlight Chen’s case by increasing requests for diplomatic visits to him and his family and to raise the issue of persecuted human rights leaders with the Chinese government.
Following Chen’s daring escape days ago, Smith wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about Chen and his family’s safety. Click here to read the letter.
Smith said that Chen, his wife and even his grandmother, and numerous others who have sought to assist Chen have been savagely beaten because he defended women from the cruelty of forced abortion. The human rights group ChinaAid has posted a new 15-minute video of Chen pleading for justice and expressing concerns for the safety of his family. ChinaAid’s founder and President “Bob” Xiqiu Fu, a former Chinese prisoner, testified at the Smith emergency hearing on Chen.
“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.
After viewing Chen’s video, Smith said that “Chen has pleaded with anyone and everyone concerned about his plight to ‘pay special attention’ to his family who are at great risk.” Smith said at least four of Chen’s relatives are known to have been subjected to harsh interrogations since Chen’s escape.
“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.
“Over the next few hours/days, whatever it takes, everything discussed in China between Secretary Clinton and Premier Wen, as well as their staffs, must be through the prism of the struggles, torture, escape and justice overdue Chen Guangcheng, his family and other human rights activists in China,” said Smith.
“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.
“On her first trip to China, Secretary Clinton said she would not allow human rights concerns to ‘interfere’ with other issues like global warming and debt. That’s nonsense,” Smith said. “Chen and his family must be free.”
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.

In the astonishment surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s extraordinary escape from house arrest, let us not forget why he was arrested: in 2006 Chen exposed the Chinese government’s systematic, massive use of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization to enforce its “One Child Policy.” WRWF obtained a copy of Chen’s field notes and we released the first English translation of these notes at a Congressional Hearing on December 6, 2011. You can read The Chen Guangcheng Report here.

A member of Chen’s team, human rights attorney Teng Biao, drafted this 2005 investigative report into coercive family planning in Linyi City, Shandong Province. The report contains extensive witness statements from cases Chen and his team were investigating before Chen was jailed. In the report are detailed accounts regarding:
•   a woman forcibly aborted and sterilized at seven months;
•   villagers sleeping in fields to evade Family Planning Officials;
•  Family Planning Officials who broke three brooms over the head of an elderly man;
•   Family Planning Officials who forced a grandmother and her brother to beat each other; and
•   The use of quota systems and the practice of “implication” – the detention, fining and torture of the extended family of One Child Policy “violators.”
The Chen Guangcheng report makes clear: the spirit of the Red Guards lives on in China’s Family Planning death machine. WRWF released the names of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, so that they can be held accountable before the world.
Apparently, things have not improved in Linyi since 2005. Just last month, a woman in Linyi was forcibly aborted at nine months.  A photo of her full term baby floating in the bucket in which it was drowned circulated widely on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, eliciting widespread outrage. In April 2011, Family Planning Officials stabbed a man to death when attempting to seize his sister for a forced sterilization.  In October 2011, a woman, six months pregnant, died during a forced abortion in Lijing County, also in Shandong Province.
Chen may be safe for the moment, but the women for whom he risked everything are not. Forced abortion is not a choice. It is official government rape. Until women in China are free to exercise perhaps their most fundamental right — the right to bear children — the nation of China will not be free.

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