Monday, 15 April 2013

130,000 Forced Abortions in China, Chen Guangcheng Tells Congress

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Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng (shown) testified before Congress April 9, providing a subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with a list of “corrupt officials” in Communist China he said were responsible for no less than 130,000 forced abortions. Chen also said that Chinese officials have gone back on their promise not to harm his family that remains in China since Chen, his wife, and their children were allowed to leave the country and relocate in the United Sates.

Chen, who is blind, fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in late April 2012 to escape years-long abuse and imprisonment because of his efforts to expose China's record of forced abortion, tied to its notorious one-child “family planning” policy. Negotiations between the Chinese officials and U.S. State Department officials — including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — resulted in freedom for Chen and his family, but according to Chen, China has retaliated by persecuting and imprisoning family members who remain in China.

“The officials who are on this list have continuously in the past persecuted me and my family,” said Chen as he held up the document. “These corrupt officials, they have this blood on their hands with ... 130,000 forced abortions.”

Robert Fu of the American organization China Aid, which has partnered with Chen in his campaign to expose China's forced abortion holocaust, told in an e-mail that “the number 130,000 was what Mr Chen said in Chinese about the cases of forced abortion and forced sterilization he documented in 2005, which occurred within less than a year. He also mentioned a number 600,000, but the interpreter forgot to translate, which Mr Chen said, is the number of family members [who] were persecuted one way or another in relation to the 130,000 cases.”

In his first testimony to the U.S. Congress since he was released from house arrest in 2012, Chen, a self-taught human rights lawyer, said that “China's leaders are weak” and lack the ability to bring any improvement to their country's deplorable human rights record. He cited his own family's experience as evidence, noting that while Communist officials had promised to guarantee the safety and freedom of Chen's family members in China, that has not been the case.

Chen explained that following his daring escape from his native country, his nephew, Chen Kegui, was arrested and imprisoned on charges that he assaulted and injured local officials, actions which his family insist were done in self-defense. “On November 30, 2012, on a charge of so-called intentional injury, it sentenced him to a prison term of three years and three months,” Chen testified of his nephew, adding that “Chen Kegui has been sent to the same prison in the city where I was tortured when I was illegally sentenced on trumped-up charges. Up until now, Chen Kegui is still under threat that if he appeals, he will be sentenced to life in prison.”

Chen's brother, the father of Chen Kegui, confirmed the continued abuse, saying that Chinese Communist goons “have never stopped monitoring us for one day after Chen Guangcheng left. There’s still surveillance in the village. The guards, they’re still here, just a bit more hidden.”

The Washington Post reported that Chen is asking Congress to pressure the Obama administration to release U.S. diplomatic records of what he said were high-level agreements between the State Department and Chinese officials, to demonstrate that China is breaking its promise not to harm Chen's family. “We cannot continue to tolerate the Chinese Communist authorities going back on their word,” he said. “When the Chinese Communist Central Party can act like this and break its promises to me, to the United States, and to the whole world, and when it can willfully break agreements made to my face that have attracted the world’s attention, how can we expect it to improve the human rights situation in other areas, and to take up its international responsibilities and obligations?”

Chen asked the Foreign Relations Committee's global human rights subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), to obtain “and publish the written and oral diplomatic agreements between China and the United States with regard to this incident of mine,” including a letter Chen penned to China’s Premier Wen Jiabao after he had escaped into the U.S. Embassy.

The alleged treatment of Chen's family comports with what Chen and his wife have said they suffered under Communist thugs in their own community and home. In 2011 Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, related some of the torture and abuse. “On March 3, they sealed our windows with sheets of metal,” wrote Yuan of the action of local officials. “On March 6 they cut off electric power. At midnight of March 7, the guards crept into our home and cut off our TV antenna. In the morning of March 8, the electric power was back. On the same day, Zhang Jiang led 40-50 men, storming into my home and took away our old computer, some hand written materials, DVD player and some remotes, and all of the materials about Chen Guangcheng’s case.” She added that Zhang “punched my head with his fist because I confronted him by asking why they were robbing us.”

Ten days later, the notorious Zhang returned, this time with some 50 helpers carrying large sacks. “They sacked all of our property which they thought they should take into the bags, including all of our books, the posters of our children on the wall, the calendar, Guangcheng’s blind cane, all of our papers, worn power plugs, antenna, wires, etc.,” she wrote. “March 22, they installed two video cameras on our home gate and southwest corner of our courtyard so they can monitor my home completely.”

Such treatment has continued, Chen testified to Congress, transferred onto his family, despite promises to the contrary. The abuse is tied to a 2005 investigative report Chen prepared that details the horrific abuse Chinese officials pour onto women and families who ignore the government's one-child dictate. The UK-based organization Women’s Rights Without Frontiers has published an English translation of the report. Among the abuse detailed in the report:

• A woman forced to undergo an abortion at seven months, followed by forced sterilization.

• Villagers forced to sleep in fields in order to evade China’s family planning enforcers.

• Family planning officials breaking three brooms over the head of an elderly man.

• Family planning officials forcing a grandmother and her brother to beat each other.

• The practice by family planning officials of “implication” — detaining, fining, and torturing extended family members of those who have “violated” China’s one-child policy.

While Chen’s report dates from around 2005, Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, said there is abundant evidence that China's forced abortion policy remains in place. A photo of a “full term baby floating in the bucket in which it was drowned circulated widely on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, eliciting widespread outrage,” Littlejohn told in May 2012. She added that “in April 2011, Family Planning officials stabbed a man to death when attempting to seize his sister for a forced sterilization.” And, Littlejohn recalled, “in October 2011, a woman, six months pregnant, died during a forced abortion in Lijing County.”

Chen said that forced abortions and the treatment perpetrated on Chinese women and their families are part of the de facto official policy of China's Communist Party. “Forced abortion is definitely a human rights issue,” Chen said. “No mother wants to kill her own children. It’s definitely dictated by the Central Communist Party. The Communist Party is above the law.”

Representative Chris Smith said that “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. It took a blind man ... to open the eyes of a blind world to these human rights violations systematically inflicted on Chinese women.”

Photo of Chen Guangcheng: AP Images

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