WASHINGTON – Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangchen told U.S. House members Tuesday that Secretary of State John Kerry should acknowledge human rights violations when he visits China this weekend.
Along with several other activists,Chen told the Subcommittee on Africa,Global Health,Global Human Rights and International Organizations graphic stories of forced abortions and sterilizations by government officials in rural China. The abortions and sterilizations are results of China’s one-child policy.
“I’m here because something has to be done,” Chen said in an interview after the hearing.
Chen,who is blind,escaped from house arrest last year,and was able to make his way to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. His wife and children came to the U.S. with him.
Geng He,also testified. She is the wife of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng,who is in prison and has been repeatedly kidnapped and tortured by government officials.
“I am very concerned that the torture and the long-term imprisonment pose a serious threat to his life,” Geng said. “I appeal to the international community to persist in paying continuous attention to lawyer Gao Zhisheng,as this is the best way to protect him.”
Rep. Christopher Smith,R-N.J.,the subcommittee chair,did not say if the subcommittee would do anything about Kerry’s visit,but he said committee members would do everything in their power to make the issue known to other members of Congress.
“It took a blind man to really see the injustice of a population control program that makes most brothers and sisters illegal,and to hear the desperate cries of Chinese women,” Smith said. “It took a blind man – the great Chen Guangchen – to open the eyes of a blind world to these human rights violations.”
Chen and the committee also discussed the Chinese firewall – the government controlled Internet – propaganda in news,religious persecution and what the U.S. government can do to stop human rights violations.
The witnesses pushed for stronger leadership in Congress and the White House.
Jared Genser,a human rights lawyer who founded Freedom Now to help free political prisoners around the world,said he has seen less willingness to act from President Barack Obama than from President George W. Bush. Genser suggested that Obama meet with Chen to send a message to China.
Rep. Randy Weber,R-Texas,asked if China would listen to U.S. demands.
Pastor Bob Fu,founder and president of the ChinaAid Association,said China cares about trade relations with the U.S. and its reputation at the United Nations. Fu fled China in 2002 after being persecuted over his religious beliefs.
In response to a question from Smith,Chen said U.S. diplomats in China have not visited Chen’s nephew and other relatives family in prison,where government officials are holding them in Chen’s place.
After the hearing,Chen said he thinks Kerry should hold the Chinese government accountable.
“I think he should insist,he should because freedom is an American value,” Chen said.
Reach reporter Jasmine Aguilera at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.