by Steven Ertelt
August 21, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — For the third time, the Bush administration has called on China to force local officials to release an activist who has been apprehended and put on trial for exposing a brutal forced abortion and sterilization campaign that claimed more than 10,000 women as victims.
At a news briefing on Friday, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the Bush administration strongly protests the unlawful treatment of Chen and his defense attorneys by officials in Linyi, China, an eastern city.
He said the case "certainly" calls into question China’s commitment to the rule of law both in Chen’s case and in broader terms.
Casey said the Bush administration wants Linyi officials to drop their made-up charges against Chen.
"I think to say the least they appear highly questionable to us, as do some of the charges of petty theft that we understand have been leveled against his attorneys now,” said Casey.
“So at this point, what we’re doing is again urging the Chinese government to respect the rights of their citizens to advocate peacefully for rights of their fellow citizens," Casey explained, according to a Voice of America news report.
"Certainly not only in China but any place around the world, no one should suffer for simply expressing their views, for raising concerns about government policies," he said.
This is the third time the Bush administration has tried to assist Chen.
Earlier this month, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey raised concerns about Chen.
Before that, two U.S. representatives attempted to meet with Chen’s family, but local Linyi officials prevented them from doing so.
Casey’s comments came on the heels of Chen’s trial on Friday that ended in chaos and another round of harassment of his attorneys.
Chen’s attorneys were arrested and he was appointed two state lawyers who knew nothing of his case.
Linyi officials arrested three of his defense attorneys and held two of them until after the trial concluded.
Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer and law professor from Beijing, was detained for 22 hours and false charges of theft to prevent him from attending the trial. "It’s obvious the authorities did not want us to defend Chen Guangcheng," Xu, a member of a district people’s congress in Beijing, told Reuters.
Li Fangping, another attorney who was falsely arrested and prevented from helping Chen, said the activist was appointed two state lawyers who knew nothing of his case. He said the repeated denial of rights caused Chen to be physically ill.
There is no news on the outcome of the trial or when the verdict will be announced. Chen’s attorneys said it lasted about two hours.
Hundreds of police surrounded the courthouse in Yinan County, Shandong province where the trial was held and prevented Chen supporters from entering, including Chen’s wife Yuan Weijing. Others were placed under house arrested.
Chen, who is blind, could receive up to five years in jail if found guilty of the fabricated charges and Li said before the trial that he will not plead guilty.
Chen brought the forced abortion family planning campaign to the attention of American media outlets and said as many as 10,000 women in the province were forced to have abortions or sterilized against their will. Chinese media frequently censor news coming from the Asian nation.
Anyone who attempted to flee the brutality was apprehended, beaten, and held hostage in city prisons until their relatives came forward and paid large fines for their release.
Chen was later arrested on trumped up charges related to a protest of the house arrests of his family and others. Last year he was organizing a class action lawsuit against the Linyi government when he started coming under persecution.
Local officials were prepared to hold a trial last month, but delayed it for unknown reasons.
Chen’s attorneys say the Chinese government is turning a blind eye because it often allows local governments great leeway in putting down political unrest. They also say leading Chinese officials have been lied to about Chen’s situation.
Linyi officials have persuaded some top Chinese leaders that Chen’s efforts are supported by overseas groups and they successfully lobbied the Foreign Ministry and the powerful Propaganda Department to ban any discussion of Chen’s case in the state media or on the Internet.
Chen and his wife and 70 year-old mother were under house arrest beginning in September last year. The officials cut his telephone lines and used specialized equipment to prevent him from using his cell phone.
ACTION: Contact China’s embassy in the United States and encourage officials there to help Chen Guangcheng. You can find contact information at