Opening Remarks of Congressman Smith
China’s Crackdown on Human Rights Focus of Hearing
Smith chairs congressional hearing of House human rights panel
The Chinese government’s renewed crackdown on its own people, including extremely harsh treatment of human rights leaders—many of whom are missing—was detailed at a Capitol Hill hearing today held by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), the chairman of the congressional panel that oversees international human rights.
“The human rights situation in China has gone from abysmally bad to worse,” Smith said. “In fact, we’ve not seen this level of blatant violations of human rights since the crackdown on Tiananmen Square protestors in June 1989. Since February of this year, the Chinese government has significantly increased its oppression of human rights advocates, including activist lawyers, bloggers, clergy and members of independent religious groups. It has resorted not only to social pressure, intimidation, and physical harassment, but also to threats against family members, beatings, and even forced disappearances.” Click here to read Smith’s hearing statement.
Smith is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee who chairs its human rights panel, which is formally known as the Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee. He is also a commissioner of both the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
Testimony from witnesses at the hearing included statements by: Wei Jingsheng, Chair, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and former political prisoner; Harry Wu, Executive Director, Laogai Research Foundation, and former political prisoner; Jing Zhang, Director of Operations, All Girls Allowed; Steven Mosher, President, Population Research Institute; Philem Kine, Asia Researcher, Human Rights Watch, and; Andrea Worden, Adjunct Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law.
After he denounced government abuses in China, Wei Jingsheng was arrested in 1979 and imprisoned through September 1993. After a brief release he was again jailed until November 1997. Harry Wu served 19 years in a dozen separate Chinese labor camps, or laogai—supposed reform programs through hard labor. He was freed in 1979, and came to the United States where he established the Laogai Research Foundation, a non-profit research and education organization.