Last Friday Congressman Chris Smith submitted an amendment to the State Department 2012 appropriation bill House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Committee unanimously approved the Amendment which is below.
Our friends over at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers produced their own press release on this encouraging development. We encourage you to go check it out.
AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY
SEC. ll. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON ADMINISTRATION ACTION NEEDED TO SECURE THE FREEDOM OF CHEN GUANGCHENG AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN CHINA.
(a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:
(1) Blind, self-taught legal advocate Chen Guangcheng publicly exposed the fact that in 2005, 130,000 involuntary abortions and sterilizations were performed on women in Linyi County, Shandong Province in a single year.
(2) Mr. Chen was arrested on June 21, 2006, tried on November 27, 2006, and sentenced on December 1, 2006, to four years and three months in jail, on charges of ‘‘intentional destruction or damage to property’’ and ‘‘gathering people to disturb traffic order’’.
(3) The prosecution and trial of Mr. Chen has drawn repeated criticism for its lack of due process of law, including the detention of his defense lawyers on the eve of trial and the alleged extraction of witness statements under torture.
(4) Time Magazine named Mr. Chen one of “2006’s Top 100 People Who Shape Our World”, in the category of ‘‘Heroes and Pioneers’’.
(5) In August 2007, Chinese authorities stopped Mr. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, at the airport, revoked her passport and forcibly returned her to her village as she attempted to travel to Manila to collect Mr. Chen’s Magsaysay Award, known as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
(6) Mr. Chen was released from prison on September 9, 2010, with a chronic, debilitating intestinal illness contracted in prison, for which he has been allowed no medical treatment.
(7) Mr. Chen is now under house arrest, where he has been repeatedly and severely beaten, and denied adequate medical treatment and nutrition despite fragile and deteriorating health.
(8) Mr. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, and their children have been subjected to harassment, surveillance, and confinement throughout Mr. Chen’s imprisonment and house arrest.
(9) Mr. Chen and Ms. Yuan secretly recorded a video describing the harsh conditions of their house arrest, which included constant surveillance by 66 security police, severed telephone and internet connections, lack of adequate food, and continued intimidation by officials, who enter their home at any time, without notice.
(10) In February 2011, following the video’s release, Mr. Chen’s legal team tried to assist him, but several were placed under house arrest, and two of his lawyers, Jiang Tianyong and Teng Biao, were beaten and later disappeared.
(11) The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China issued the following warning on February 17, 2011, ‘‘Correspondents should be careful if they attempt to enter the village of activist Chen Guangcheng in Shandong Province. In recent days several correspondents have encountered groups of violent, plainclothes thugs. . . They have pushed reporters around, threatened them with bricks, damaged their cars, confiscated or destroyed their equipment and taken their press credentials’’.
(12) The 2010 Congressional-Executive Commission on China Report states that ‘‘Chinese authorities continued to implement population planning policies that interfere with and control the reproductive lives of women, employing various methods including fines, cancellation of state benefits and permits, forced sterilization, forced abortion, arbitrary detention, and other abuses’’.
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that—
(1) the Government of the People’s Republic of China should cease its harassment of Chen Guangcheng and his family, including his wife, daughter, son, and mother, and arrange medical treatment for him and his wife, Yuan Weijing;
(2) the Government of the People’s Republic of China should release Chen Guangcheng and his family from house arrest, allow them freedom of movement, and allow access to him by international diplomats and journalists;
(3) the President and the Secretary of State should actively and repeatedly seek diplomatic visits to Chen Guangcheng and his family;
(4) the President, Secretary of State, and other Administration officials should raise the issue of harassed, arrested, disappeared, and disbarred human rights lawyers and defenders with the Government of the People’s Republic of China and link this issue to United States interests in the rule of law and human rights;
(5) the President, Secretary of State, and other United States Government officials should aggressively and repeatedly raise the issue of the coercive implementation of China’s birth limitation policy with President Hu Jintao; and
(6) Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing, are to be commended for their courage and integrity and should be supported in their determination to expose and oppose coercive population control methods in China that violate the human rights of women.