Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and United States Congressional Representative to the United Nations, released the following statement regarding the blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who took refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing to escape persecution by the Chinese government.
"Chen Guangcheng is a courageous individual whose case illustrates the ongoing civil rights abuses by the Chinese government. Chen has boldly stood up for the rights of women and protested the horrors of forced abortion. For that, the Chinese state has sought to silence him.
"I am appalled by the treatment not only of Chen, but also of his family and friends, by Chinese government officials. The Obama administration must uphold Chen's appeal to China's Premier Wen Jiabao to investigate and hold responsible those officials who beat and tortured Chen and his family and friends. The United States must take a stand to ensure that justice is served and that Chen does not recede into the belly of the Chinese state. I call on Premier Wen and President Obama to guarantee the safety and freedom of Chen and his family and friends.
"The Obama administration must stand with dissidents such as Chen Guangcheng. The United States has a moral responsibility to defend human rights around the globe, even at the cost of offending other nations."
Chinese officials began a barbaric campaign against Chen and his family in 2005, after Chen criticized the brutality of the one-child policy in Linyi, Shandong province. The Chinese government placed him under house arrest and subjected him and his family to a wide range of civil rights abuses. He escaped from house arrest last week and sought refuge in the United States Embassy. Yesterday Chen left the Embassy by his own volition, but under dubious circumstances. The Obama administration reportedly made an arrangement with the Chinese government, the details of which have not been made public.