Smith Shines Human Rights Spotlight on Coercion in China’s One-Child Policy
Mao Hengfeng, Others, Tortured for Resisting Forced Abortions
Human rights experts, State Department officials and a surviving victim of China’s one-child per couple policy came to Capitol Hill today to further expose the ongoing brutality of China’s coercive population program and its disregard for fundamental human rights.Human rights experts, State Department officials and a surviving victim of China’s one-child per couple policy came to Capitol Hill today to further expose the ongoing brutality of China’s coercive population program and its disregard for fundamental human rights.
Congressman Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), Vice Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, chaired the hearing which examined the systematic use of coercion by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the implementation of its “One-Child Per Couple” population control policy. The hearing also focused on the recent deplorable case of Mao Hengfeng, a victim of a forced abortion whose ongoing attempts to secure justice have resulted in a government imposed prison sentence of 18 months hard labor, during which she has been tortured and denied vitally-needed medicine.
“Mao’s life is in danger today,” said Smith who has led three fact-finding human rights trips to China. “Her case is among the most egregious examples of China’s mistreatment of women who do not comply with China’s draconian policies, but in addition to Mao, there are thousands more.
Smith cited State Department reports that police bound Mao’s wrists and ankles with leather straps and pulled her limbs apart for a period of two days to force Mao to acknowledge wrongdoing.
“Mao subsequently lost an appeal in a Shanghai court to receive welfare payments but was seen with blood-blisters and swelling around her wrists and ankles, indicating ongoing abuse. More recently, family members report she is being force-fed an unidentified medicine which turns her mouth black,” Smith said.
Pacific T. Kumar, Amnesty International’s Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific, said acts perpetrated by certain population control officials in China amount to torture.
“Amnesty International is concerned at reports that forced abortion and sterilization have been carried out by or at the instigation of people acting in an official capacity, such as family planning officials, against women who are detained or forcibly taken from their homes to have the operation. Amnesty International considers that in these circumstances such actions amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” Kumar said.
The torture of those who resist the coercive One-Child-Per-Couple policy, such as Mao Hengfeng, demonstrates that China’s drive to control its population growth at any cost to the Chinese people is as strong and dangerous as ever. According to the State Department, in the early 1990’s, 150,000 persons were in ‘Reeducation Through Labor’ gulags. In the period 2001-2003, the number of prisoners in such concentration camps, or Laogai, doubled to 310,000.
“Coercion is at the very heart of China’s population control policy. Our witnesses here testified to that fact repeatedly.,” Smith said. Any organization or entity which actively assists China’s population program needs to understand that they are aiding and abetting the commission of human rights violations on a massive scale,” said Smith.
Also testifying at the hearing was Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Arthur E. Dewey. Dewey stated, "China’s birth planning law and policies retain harshly coercive elements in law and practice. Forced abortion and sterilization are egregious violations of human rights, and should be of concern to the global human rights community, as well as to the Chinese themselves. Unfortunately, we have not seen willingness in other parts of the international community to stand with us on these human rights issues."
According to the most recent State Department Human Rights Report, one consequence of “the country's birth limitation policies” is that 56 percent of the world's female suicides occur in China, which is five times the world average and approximately 500 suicides by women per day.
Ma DongFang, forced by Chinese authorities to abort her second child, also spoke out against China’s systematic use of coercion to enforce its program of population control. "I condemn any governmental policy that results in infanticide, physical pain, and emotional torture. To punish a woman and her family for unplanned pregnancies is an unspeakable cruelty. There are so many stories like mine in China, and so many women wish to escape the one-child policy."
“We call on the Chinese authorities to immediately release Mao Hengfeng and allow her to return to her family. Fighting for human rights is almost always difficult and inconvenient. Unfortunately, however, communists in China do not take time off from their abuse and persecution for the holidays,” Smith concluded.