Amnesty International is condemning a new deal the United States is attempting to arrange with China to allow Chen Guangcheng, the forced abortion opponent, to come to the United States to study as a visiting student.
Victoria Nuland, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, says China has allowed Chen to submit the application and could travel to the United States with his wife and children.
But the human rights watchdog group says the deal ignores the plight of Chen’s extended family, which has already faced persecution in the form of arrests and beatings following Chen’s escape from home confinement. AI says the pledge by China that it will allow Chen Guangcheng to go abroad with his family so he can study seems empty as long as the Chinese state keeps the activist’s wider family in detention and retaliates against his supporters.
Against the background of a U.S. pronouncement that China’s promise is “encouraging” Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, said, “The disparity between high level assurances and the reality on the ground is stark.”
“While China and the U.S. negotiated on Chen and his family, Chinese authorities were targeting his friends and supporters – including beating Jiang Tianyong, a lawyer who tried to visit Chen at hospital in Beijing,” the AI spokeswoman said. “We’re hopeful but not reassured by the latest deal emerging for Chen Guangcheng. The fate of Chen and his family is far from certain, given that they are not yet safe and free.”
Meanwhile, pro-life Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, echoed these concerns in an interview with MSNBC.
“Let’s hope that [Chen] gets out, his wife gets out and their children, and then we move to the next step of ‘What about the rest of the family?’” he asked.
The full Amnesty International statement continued:
“The hurried negotiations earlier this week have partly led to the uncertainty surrounding Chen’s fate. The US must tell the world exactly what the Chinese government has promised regarding Chen and his family, who made those promises, and, crucially, what concrete steps the US will take to ensure that Chen Guangcheng and his family can lead the life they want to live.
“The Chinese government has proven over and over that they have no regard for Chen Guangcheng’s safety or freedom. For more than seven years, this man has been either under illegal house arrest or in prison for no reason other than trying to use the law to protect the legal rights – and human rights – of his fellow Chinese.
“The Chinese authorities have already acted in bad faith more than once this week.
“The US and other governments must demand that the Chinese government’s retaliation against Chen’s wider family and network of supporters stops now.
“Chen’s older brother is believed to be in police custody while the whereabouts of his nephew and mother are unknown.
“The Chinese authorities must also honour their commitment to both Chen and the US to thoroughly and impartially investigate his claims of abuse while under illegal house arrest in Shandong province, and ensure the results of any investigation are made public.”
Earlier this week, Chen 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.
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.
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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.”