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Welcome to Freedom

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Newark, NJ

U.S. Representative Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the arrival of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng at Newark Liberty Airport in the United States:

"After years of enduring physical and psychological torture, imprisonment, and hate, the man, Chen Guangcheng, who defended Chinese women from the crime of forced abortion is finally free," said Smith, who met with Chen after his arrival in the U.S. "America welcomes this extraordinary family with open arms. (click here to watch a May 21 CNN report on the arrival) "Joined by his equally heroic wife, Yuan Weijing, and their children, the Chens will finally get to rest, recuperate, and recover. His children can now begin the process of healing from emotional trauma no child should ever endure." (Note: Chen has two children only because some disabled persons -- Chen is blind -- are permitted to have a second child.) Click here to watch Smith on a Fox News report.

"Great human rights leaders are never separated from the noble causes they espoused. Think of Lech Walesa and Solidarity, Nelson Mandela and opposition to apartheid, Aung San Suu Chi and democracy in Burma. Chen's cause is ending China's One Child Policy and forced abortion."

"Not all the Chens are free and safe, however. The Chinese government must immediately end its deplorable retaliation against Chen's family and friends who remain in China."

At two congressional hearings chaired by Smith on May 3 and May 15, (Click here to view video of the May 15 hearing. Click here to watch CSPAN video of Smith's May 3 hearing.) Chen testified by telephone and pleaded for the protection of his extended family -- especially his mother, brother, and nephew -- and friends. Smith chaired an emergency hearing on Chen on October 31, 2011. Thecongressman nominated Chen for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, along with two other persecuted Chinese human rights advocates--Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xiaobo. Liu won ultimately won the 2010 prize. Since November 2011, Smith has been repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to get a visa to travel to visit Chen by the Chinese government. Smith held an emergency hearing on Chen in Nov. 2011 of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which Smith chairs.

"Over the last several days, several of Chen's relatives and supporters have been arrested and brutally beaten as part of the Chinese government's refocused retaliation. They can't beat him anymore, but they are beating his relatives and friends," Smith said today.

Smith, Chairman of the House panel on human rights, said, "Chen Guangcheng is among the bravest defenders of women's rights in the world. He defended thousands of women from the ongoing, most egregious and systematic state-sponsored exploitation and abuse of women in human history -- pervasive forced abortion and involuntary sterilization as part of China's one child per couple policy. He suffered torture, cruel and degrading treatment, unjust incarceration, and multiple beatings as a result."

"The sheer magnitude of this exploitation of women has been largely overlooked and trivialized -- and even enabled -- by many. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has for over thirty years supported, defended, and whitewashed the crimes against women and children Chen struggled to expose. That's why President Reagan and more recently President Bush defunded the UNFPA. In an indefensible reversal, the Obama Administration has provided approximately $165 million to the UNFPA," Smith said.

Several individuals from Chen's family who remain in China are vulnerable to retaliation by the Chinese government. A list follows, with the most recent reports of their status:

Wang Jinxiang, Chen Guangcheng's 78-year-old mother--Chen reported to Voice of America on May 15 that she remained in their village in Shandong province, but is now permitted to leave their home without guard escort. (VOA Chinese, 15 May 12)

Chen Guangfu, Chen Guangcheng's older brother. In a videotaped interview with Hong Kong magazine iSun Affairs inside his home, Chen Guangfu detailed the abuse he suffered at the hands of officials after they discovered Chen Guangcheng had escaped. "Chen Guangfu said the men cuffed his hands behind his back and shackled his feet with a chain, then slapped him several times, struck him in the ribs and stomped on his feet...'At the beginning they asked me, 'Do you know what's happened?' and I said, 'I don't know,' and each time I said that, they slapped me,' ... Chen Guangfu said the interrogation lasted three days." http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/activist-in-diplomatic-tussle-says-china-plans-to-have-familys-passports-ready-within-2-weeks/2012/05/17/gIQAweFBVU_story.html http://www.isunaffairs.com/?p=5071

A CNN journalist reportedly made contact with Chen Guangfu May 16th. He confirmed previous reports that Chen Kegui had acted out of self-defense in a confrontation with officials who had invaded his home following his uncle's escape. According to CNN, Chen Guangfu said that "two to three dozen men scaled the wall and broke into his house after midnight, took him away and went back to beat his family, including his son Chen Kegui, who was forced to defend himself. 'If he didn't act in self-defense, he would've been dead himself,' he said." Chen Guangfu also reported, "[w]e're not allowed to leave the village...[i]t's not convenient for us to call Guangcheng or others." http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/16/us/china-us-chen/index.html

CHRD reported learning new information about the confrontation that happened in Chen Guangfu's home on April 27. Officials reportedly had entered his home twice on the morning of April 27. First to take away (and later torture) Chen Guangfu, and a second time in which they beat his wife Ren Zongju and son Chen Kegui. It was during the second time that Chen Kegui brandished a knife to attack or defend against the officials. http://www.chrdnet.com/2012/05/16/china-human-rights-briefing-special-edition-shandong-police-torture-chen-guangfu-brother-of-chen-guangcheng-as-relatives-live-in-fear/

Authorities detained Chen Guangfu on April 26 following a clash with police in his home (CHRD, 1 May 12). Authorities released him on May 7 (VOA, translated by China Aid Association, 7 May 12) http://www.chinaaid.org/2012/05/voa-chen-kegui-already-criminally.html

Chen Guangfu reportedly remains under close police surveillance and is forbidden to leave his village or make any phone calls (RFA, 8 May 12). http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/fears-05082012153029.html

Chen Kegui, Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Guangfu's son. Chen Guangcheng expressed concerns about Chen Kegui in an AFP interview, indicating that authorities may not be permitting lawyers to see Chen Kegui because he has been beaten. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9271430/Chen-Guangcheng-to-get-passport-within-15-days.html

Chen Kegui was criminally detained on April 30 and formally arrested on May 9, on charges of "intentional homicide" (Criminal Procedure Law, Art. 61) for attacking/defending against officials who invaded his home after discovering that Chen Guangcheng had escaped. Chen Guangcheng reported to the Wall Street Journal on May 15 that local officials have still not permitted Chen Kegui to see his lawyers. Chen Kegui is being held at the Yinan County Detention Center in Shandong province. (WSJ, 15 May 12) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577405741772464640.html

Ren Zongju, Chen Guangcheng's sister-in-law, Chen Guangfu's wife, and Chen Kegui's mother. Ren was reportedly detained and then released pending trial on charges of "harboring a criminal," Chen Kegui. (RFA, 8 May 12). http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/fears-05082012153029.html

Liu Fang, Chen Guangcheng's niece-in-law, Chen Kegui's wife--Liu Fang's lawyer, Si Weijiang, reported to the Wall Street Journal that Liu is in a safe location, but that local officials from her county are demanding to see her. Si plans to bring another lawyer to meet with the officials, but says, "I refuse to bring Chen [Kegui]'s wife over to see them." (WSJ, 15 May 12) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577405741772464640.html

Chen Guangcun, Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Officials reportedly took Chen Guangcun and his son into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 1 May 12).

Chen Hua, Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Chen Guangcun's son. Officials reportedly took Chen Hua and his father into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (CHRD, 1 May 12).

Status of Chen Guangcheng's Supporters:

He Peirong--Nanjing-based human rights advocate. Played a key role in transporting Chen Guangcheng from Shandong province to Beijing following his escape. State security personnel reportedly took He from her home in Nanjing "to assist with investigations" (Reuters, 7 May 12). http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/07/us-china-chen-activist-idUSBRE8460E220120507

She was interrogated in a hotel for seven days and has now returned home, where she is "allowed to move about freely" (NYT, 8 May 12). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/world/asia/chen-guangcheng-assisted-by-chinese-authorities-for-us-travel-plans.html?_r=3

On May 10, He posted on her Twitter account that she is not accepting interviews with the media (Twitter, 10 May 12). http://twitter.com/#!/pearlher/status/200506672173682688

Guo Yushan -- Beijing-based scholar and human rights advocate. Authorities initially detained him for 50 hours following Chen's escape and released him on April 30 (LA Times, 1 May 12). http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/05/china-chen-guangcheng-dissident-nephew-held.html. A French journalist posted on Twitter on May 1 that he had spoken with Guo, who stated he was not allowed to grant interviews to foreign journalists (Twitter, 1 May 12). https://twitter.com/#!/jordanpouille/status/197507708105138177 Guo reportedly has remained in contact with Chen following his release (WP, 3 May 12). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/chen-guangchengs-face-saving-deal/2012/05/03/gIQAXBllzT_blog.html

Jiang Tianyong-- Beijing-based lawyer, human rights advocate, and supporter of Chen Guangcheng. Authorities reportedly ordered Jiang to leave Beijing on May 8 and instructed him to notify the police prior to his return. Jiang had previously reported that security personnel beat him after he attempted to visit Chen at the hospital, damaging his hearing. Authorities permitted him to seek medical treatment on May 7 for the injuries he sustained during the beating. The doctor that examined Jiang, however, reportedly refused to record the injury. Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported in their May 13 update that officials had warned Jiang not to return to Beijing until after the leadership transition occurs, expected late this year. (NYT, 8 May 12 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/world/asia/chen-guangcheng-assisted-by-chinese-authorities-for-us-travel-plans.html?_r= ; CHRD, 13 May 12)

Hu Jia -- Beijing-based human rights advocate. Authorities detained Hu Jia on April 27 and held him for 24 hours for questioning regarding Chen Guangcheng's escape (LA Times, 1 May 12). http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/05/china-chen-guangcheng-dissident-nephew-held.html Hu Jia has not posted on his Twitter account https://twitter.com/#!/hu_jia since April 30. Hu Jia stated that he would be cutting himself off from all technology from May 2-22. (Twitter, 30 April 12). https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/199836379436433410

Zeng Jinyan -- Beijing-based human rights advocate, wife of Hu Jia. Zeng stated in a May 2 post on her Twitter account that state security guards were following her when taking her daughter to school and that she was being placed under house arrest (Twitter, 2 May 12). https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/197870793647071232 Zeng has subsequently posted that security personnel continue to prevent her from leaving her home, and that authorities continue to deny her requests to pursue a master's degree at a Hong Kong university (Twitter, 4 May 12 https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/198609245325885441, 5 May 12 https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/198951204078895104, 8 May 12 https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/199834064159649793; Daily Beast 8 May 12) http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/08/chen-guangcheng-fears-authorities-will-persecute-relatives-he-leaves-behind.html. Zeng Jinyan's most recent Twitter post indicated that she would be cutting herself off from all technology for ten days (Twitter, 8 May 12). https://twitter.com/#!/zengjinyan/status/199836379436433410

Liu Yanping -- Associate of Beijing-based artist and human rights advocate Ai Weiwei. Authorities reportedly detained Liu when she attempted to bring a birthday cake to Chen Guangcheng's son at Chaoyang hospital on May 4. Liu reported on her Twitter account that authorities released her after 9 hours (Twitter, 4 May 12). https://twitter.com/#!/duyanpili/status/198483221674078209

Teng Biao --Beijing-based lawyer, human rights advocate, and supporter of Chen Guangcheng. Teng reported to Voice of America that he was expelled from Beijing on May 13, that he is temporarily staying in northeast China, and that state security officials warned him not to get involved in Chen Guangcheng's case and not to accept media interviews.

Zhao Wei --Shandong-based human rights advocate, supporter of Chen Guangcheng-- Local officials in Liaocheng city, Shandong province recently declared Zhao's passport invalid, apparently in connection with Chen's case. http://www.chrdnet.com/2012/05/01/chen-guangcheng-a-special-bulletin-updates-on-situation-of-chen-guangcheng-his-family-members-relatives-supporters-since-chens-flight-for-freedom/

Liu Guohui--Shandong-based human rights advocate, supporter of Chen Guangcheng--officials reportedly have declared Liu's passport invalid, apparently in connection with his previous attempts to visit Chen. http://www.chrdnet.com/2012/05/01/chen-guangcheng-a-special-bulletin-updates-on-situation-of-chen-guangcheng-his-family-members-relatives-supporters-since-chens-flight-for-freedom/


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