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Congressman Prevented From Visiting China, Talking to Chen

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/3/12 2:23 PM

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During an emergency hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives about the tenuous situation of forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng in China, pro-life Congressman Chris Smith said he has been prevented from visiting China and was not allowed to talk to Chen while he was at the U.S. Embassy.

“The Chinese Embassy has blocked my request for a visa to visit Chen since last October,” Smith, a New Jersey Republican, said.  “I have been working to secure his safety for years.”

Before the hearing, Smith told LifeNews, “Yesterday I was informed by Professor Jerome Cohen–a recent witness at my first hearing on Chen–that Chen wanted to talk to me. Cohen suggested that I call Embassy Beijing at 9:00 p.m. (EST), and ask for Harold Koh, Legal Advisor for the State Department who would put me on the line with Chen.  I called. Mr. Koh was unavailable to come to the phone.”

“I left my cell and land-line phone numbers but never heard from either Koh or Chen.  I waited until 4:00 a.m.,” Smith added. “At 9:00 a.m. (EST)  Assistant Sec. Mike Posner called me to convey the details of the deal. I asked several questions including how China’s promises to protect Chen could be monitored; what is the penalty if Chinese police beat him or his wife again; and why no asylum.”

Smith said that, like many Americans and people around the world, he is very concerned for Chen’s safety and that of his family and supporters.

“The Obama Administration must do everything it can to ensure that Chen Guangcheng, his family members and all those who have helped him are removed from harm’s way and do not suffer any further abuse or retaliation for Chen’s bold and courageous efforts to save his family and improve human rights for all in China,” he said.

“The AP reports today that Chen now feels that it would be best for him and his family to be in a place outside China.  He obviously needs our help,” said Smith.

Smith said he hopes the hearing would “underscore and manifest our profound support for Chen and his family.

“Chen and his associates are at great risk if they stay in China,” Smith said.  “Even the hospital is a precarious place for this extraordinary human rights hero.  The durable solution was, is and continues to be asylum,” Smith said.

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“The Secretary of State should visit Chen while he is in the hospital—as a direct act of solidarity—and to ensure his safety,” Smith said.  “And U.S. Embassy officials should re-interview Chen and his family to ensure that comments made under duress or based on misinformation do not result in sending him back to a place where he is tortured and beaten and could easily be killed.

“President Obama’s foreign policy team is on the ground in China.  They must seize this golden opportunity to help save Chen and his family and demonstrate to the world that the US stands firm for fundamental human rights and the rule of law,” he continued. “Trade talks are important but human rights are not ‘an irritant’—we have a duty to protect and defend.”

Chen was reportedly pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy and accept the deal the United States struck with China to release Chen from its temporary protection.

Chen has left the U.S. Embassy and headed to a local hospital for medical treatment following his years of house arrest by family planning and Communist Party officials. Late last week, Chen fled his hometown after escaping and supporters drove him to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after they were unable to keep him safe in homes in the Asian nation’s capital. When Chinese authorities attempted to apprehend him, he fled to the U.S. Embassy for protection.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is coming under criticism from Speaker John Boehner and others, who say they are concerned about Chen’s situation and reports showing Chen may have felt pressure to leave the Embassy after learning of threats against his family. Boehner issued a statement in response to reports showing the Obama Administration released forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng from the U.S. Embassy despite threats against him and his family.

Chen and his supporters in China had not originally intended for Chen to go to the American Embassy in Beijing. They initially put him up in various homes of backers living in the Beijing area until family planning and Communist Party officials found out about his location and chased his backers in a vehicle — forcing them to make the decision to head for the embassy.

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In a daring rescue attempt, human rights campaigners helped Chen escape his home confinement and took him to an, at the time, undisclosed location in Beijing — reportedly the U.S embassy. Leading pro-life campaigners and human rights groups are concerned that if Chen is not protected, Chinese officials may illegally detain him and send him back to prison, home detention or may take his life.

China’s state-run media initially said absolutely nothing about the daring escape Chen Guangcheng made from his house arrest, where family planning and Communist Party officials had kept him detained at home for exposing forced abortions. Other media outlets have glossed over the forced abortion components of Chen’s imprisonment and house arrest.

What is not in dispute is the fact that the Chinese government has subjected men and women to forced abortions, sterilizations, home detention and imprisonment, taken away their jobs and benefits and fined them for violating the nation’s one child policy. As the world watches the plight of Chen Guangcheng and wonders whether President Barack Obama will have the United States offer him long-term diplomatic protection, documents Chen Guangcheng compiled place the focus squarely on why China subjected him to years of house arrest:  brutal forced abortions.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, has released a compendium of Chen Guangcheng’s field notes about forced abortion and sterilization in China and the stories the blind attorney compiled are shocking, even for those familiar with the forced abortion abuses that take place as a result of China’s one-child policy.

“In the astonishment surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s extraordinary escape from house arrest, let us not forget why he was arrested,” Littlejohn told LifeNews. “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 has released the first English translation of them.

“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,” Littlejohn explained. “The report contains extensive witness statements from cases Chen and his team were investigating before Chen was jailed.”