Bush Admin Condemns Jailing of Forced Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Admin Condemns Jailing of Forced Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 28
, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Bush administration officials have condemned the jailing of an activist in China who brought international exposure to a brutal family planning campaign that saw officials in one city force more than 10,000 women have abortions or sterilizations.

Chen Guangcheng, a 34 year-old blind attorney who was preparing a class action lawsuit against the city of Linyi, was sentenced Friday to four years and four months in prison.

The jailing came after he was charged by officials on bogus counts of destroying property in a protest against the house arrest of his family. His attorneys were arrested shortly before the trial and prevented from helping Chen defeat the politically-motivated charges.

State Department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos called the charges "highly questionable" and said the Bush administration was "disturbed" at the jail sentence and the detention of Chen’s attorneys beforehand. He called on Chinese authorities to release Chen.

"Chen’s family and supporters have also reportedly been harassed," Gallegos added, calling on officials to stop persecuting his family through house arrests.

The Bush administration is concerned that the crackdown on dissenters, including Chen and others, is undermining basic human rights of the Chinese people.

"We’re concerned that Chen’s arrest, the detention of his lawyers and the reported detention of another activist, Gao Zhisheng, appear part of a larger pattern of official harassment of individuals who work to advocate for the legal rights of their fellow citizens," Gallagos explained, according to an AP report.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey expanded on President Bush’s frustration over the Chen case. He discussed how the Bush administration called for Chen’s release three times before the trial.

"At this point, what we’re doing is again urging the Chinese government to respect the rights of their citizens to advocate peacefully for the rights of their fellow citizens, certainly in China but anyplace around the world,"

"No one," Casey said, according to a Voice of America report, "should suffer for simply expressing their views, for raising concerns about government policies, and for advocating for the redress of grievances."