Aug 1, 2012
The blind Chinese activist who made a daring escape from house arrest in China last April, eventually gaining entry in the U.S., was on Capitol Hill today for meetings to discuss ongoing human rights abuse in China, including forced abortion, and to request specific efforts needed to protect his family members still in China.
After meeting Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Smith hosted Chen at an informal gathering of members of Congress who supported him during his imprisonment.
At the gathering, Chen thanked everyone who helped him, and all who stand for the rule of law and human rights in China, “even if the results are not immediately visible
.” He said “The human rights situation in China has been deteriorating recently,” but noted “more Chinese are waking up, and that trend is a good one
.” He mentioned that “the soft approaches taken some countries are delaying progress
Smith, chairman of the house panel that oversees human rights, said “Chen, who was first targeted by the Chinese in 2005, has endured arbitrary arrests and detainment, brutal beatings in prison and house arrest for defending women from forced abortions
Smith called Chen a “hero,” and welcomed him to the Capitol to speak on behalf of the others tragically suffering in China because of their defense of human rights. Smith chaired three Congressional hearings in the last ten months, including two in May when Chen was able to call in live from China.
“Chen is a hero
,” Smith said. “He, his family members and his attorneys have all suffered torture because Chen defended women in Chinese counties who had been targeted, dragged into clinics and forced to abort their children
Chen’s entrance into the American Embassy in late April caused a diplomatic furor as it came during the runup to Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to China for talks. Moving from the American Embassy to a local hospital for medical care, he was heavily guarded. From the hospital, a “shaken” Chen told an Associated Press reporter he was appealing to Congressman Smith to help his family.
After weeks of pressure, he, his wife and two children arrived at Newark International Airport. He and his family live in New York while he is studying at New York University.
In an unplanned live call-in to a May 3rd hearing
of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Chen testified by phone from his hospital bed in China about his concerns of his and his family’s safety. Within hours, the Chinese government announced that Chen could apply to travel to the United States. Chen also called into a May 15 hearing
The Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China
is a congressionally-mandated, bipartisan panel made up of Members of the House and Senate and Presidential appointees serving in the Obama Administration. Chairman Smith held three hearings on Chen, including an emergency hearing in November 2011 to determine Chen’s then-unknown status.
Smith also wrote a House Amendment on Chen’s plight in July 2011
that passed the Foreign Affairs Committee, and nominated Chen for the Nobel Peace Prize in February 2010