Reggie Littlejohn is one of the leading human rights campaigners for women and children in China who are victimized by forced abortions and infanticides as a result of the one child policy. In a new open letter to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and China Ambassador Locke, Littlejohn challenges them to offer full diplomatic protection for Chen Guangcheng.
Chen, a blind attorney, had been in captivity at his home after spending years in prison after he was convicted on trumped-up charges engineered by family planning and Communist Party officials for retaliation against his exposing a massive brutal campaign in his local county involving the victimization of thousands in forced abortions and sterilizations.
In a daring rescue attempt, human rights campaigners helped Chen escape his home confinement and took him to an undisclosed location in Beijing — reportedly the U.S embassy — but the Obama administration has given no indication of whether it will provide Chen with political asylum or other diplomatic protection. 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.
Litlejohn challenges the three top Obama administration leaders in an open letter:
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. [related]
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.
New information yesterday reveals Chen is indeed currently at the U.S. Embassy but is apparently not seeking political asylum in the United States and reportedly wants to stay in China to continue helping victims of the forced abortions that take place as a result of the one-child policy.
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In a press conference yesterday with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama refused to comment on whether the U.S would offer long-term protection for forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng.
“I am aware of the press reports,” Obama said without naming the human rights activist directly, “but I’m not going to make a statement on the issue.”
Obama claimed that the issue of human rights in China, though he did not mention forced abortions, sterilizations or infanticides specifically, comes up frequently in conversations between American and Chinese leaders.
“What I would like to emphasize is that every time we meet with China, the issue of human rights comes up,” Obama added.
“It is our belief that not only is that the right thing to do because it comports with our principles and belief in freedom and human rights, but also because we actually think China will be stronger as it opens up and liberalizes its own system,” Obama said. “We want China to be strong and we want it to be prosperous, and we are very pleased with all the areas of cooperation that we’ve been able to engage in, but we also believe that that relationship will be that much stronger and China will be that much more prosperous and strong as you see improvements in human rights issues.”
Obama did not confirm reports from other human rights activists inside and outside China that Chen is currently at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also talked about Chen on Monday, ahead of a planned trip to China, where she will meet with Chinese officials on Thursday and Friday.
“A constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights,” Clinton said. “That is the spirit that is guiding me as I take off for Beijing tonight.”
Obama’s comments are a departure from ones GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made over the weekend calling for Chen’s protection.
“My concern at this moment is for the safety of Chen Guangcheng and his family,” he said. “My hope is that U.S. officials will take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution.”
Romney continued, “This event points to the broader issue of human rights in China. Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy, and other violations of human rights. Our country must play a strong role in urging reform in China and supporting those fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.”
Meanwhile, China’s state-run media has 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.