On July 14th, in front of the United States Capitol, Jubilee Campaign joined other activists in protesting the numerous human rights abuses committed by the Communist government of China.
Gregory Treat, our Government Relations Coordinator, condemned the government torture of both lawyers Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng and called for their immediate release from detention. Jubilee Campaign stood alongside Congressmen Chris Smith and Gus Bilirakis who have devoted significant effort in engaging China to improve their human rights record.
We were also privileged to stand alongside human rights advocates and friends like Suzanne Scholte of the Defense Forum Foundation, Faith McDonald of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. These advocates have tirelessly and relentlessly raised the plight of North Korean refugees, persecuted house churches, and the unborn, calling for China to respect its international obligations and human rights standards.
The persecution of practitioners of the Falun Gong is one of the greatest tactical errors ever committed by the Chinese Communist Party. Over the past ten years, the movement experienced rapid growth to nearly 100 million practitioners by their count. When placed alongside the tens of millions of Christians who are oppressed by the Chinese government, along with other religious groups facing various forms of restrictions, one begins to realize how large a portion of the Chinese people are disaffected from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Despite the unyielding control by the CCP of every aspect of society, the international community must continue to seek to engage the government and support jailed activities such as lawyers Chen and Gao. Please see the full remarks below.
Remarks Given at Rally
Thank you, Dr. Zhang, for inviting me to speak today. I am honored to join this distinguished group in voicing my concern for those suffering in China today. I hope you will bear with my remarks. I am not an expert on the Falun Gong or conditions in China, but I am passionate about the principle behind this rally, the principle of religious freedom.
Freedom of religion is inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which China is a signatory. Article 18 grants the right to practice and worship freely, without persecution. Yet over the past decade we have seen repeated and vicious persecution of the Falun Gong. Other religious groups including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Christians-have been persecuted for decades. Human rights activists, who fight for these persecuted peoples can be disappeared at a moment’s notice if their mission threatens the reputation of those in power.
You all know the story of Gao Zhisheng and the letter he wrote to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party protesting the treatment of the Falun Gong. The CCP’s response to his peaceful request was to kidnap and torture him for defending those persecuted for their faith. After disappearing for more than a year, Gao resurfaced in March, 2010. He spoke to his family for the first time since his detention and connected with friends, colleagues, and international media. Then, during a trip to see his in-laws last April, Gao Zhisheng was escorted to a plane by security personnel and disappeared once again. The world is still waiting for any word of his whereabouts.
Another advocate, Chen Guangcheng, is famous for exposing over 150,000 forced abortions in China. His work earned him an article in Time Magazine and a four year prison sentence. After being held in inhumane conditions and denied medical treatment, Chen was finally released last year. However, he was immediately placed under severe house arrest, to the point where the guards surrounding the house would not permit them to go buy food. After a video describing these conditions was released in early February, a local CCP official led a group of security personnel to Chen’s house where they tortured him and his wife for hours. After the ordeal Chen and his wife were once again denied medical treatment. They still have not fully recovered. If the CCP continues in this course Chen’s health will continue to deteriorate and he may very well die.
This disregard for basic human rights is typical of the CCP. Under this oppressive government Christians are forced underground if they dare to leave the state-controlled churches. Uighurs and Tibetans face the extermination of their traditional cultures. And of course the Falun Gong continue to count the roll of their dead. Dozens of their practitioners have already been killed since January and the year is barely halfway through. The CCP seems determined to pursue the extermination of any group that they cannot control.
Perhaps that explains their treatment of the North Korean refugees. On the verge of starvation these refugees risk their lives to cross the border into China. But the Chinese government classifies them as economic immigrants and the Korean regime views them as defectors and traitors. Caught between these two legal definitions the Korean refugees, many of them women, are left legally destitute. Sex trafficking rings snap these women up, knowing that if they try to escape or draw any official attention they will be repatriated to face worse living conditions, torture, or even death. The Chinese government continues this policy despite its international obligations to protect asylum seekers under the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 Protocol and Article 3 of the Convention against Torture.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those feeling the lash of this oppression-the Falun Gong, the Uighurs, the Tibetans, the Christians, as well as the Korean refugees. You all deserve the opportunity to participate in your nation. We echo the position of the U.S. government in the House Resolution passed last March and the resolution introduced this week by Senators Menendez and Coburn calling on the CCP to “cease and desist” its persecution of the Falun Gong. The CCP must reconsider the value of giving its citizens freedom to hold political and religious beliefs that are rich in diversity, to exercise the rule of law, and to embrace the variety that exists within its borders whole-heartedly. For in the end it is that freedom and diversity which makes merely a powerful government into a truly great nation, and that is what we want for China. Thank you.