WASHINGTON, D.C.-Once again defying his captors, human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng sent a 16-page open letter to the U.S. Congress in which he calls attention to the abuses of the regime in the preparation to host the Olympic Games. His letter was read aloud at a news conference in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capital Hill on September 20th. Most likely, the public letter and the news conference are the reasons he was arrested by the Chinese security police again September 23 and taken away to undisclosed location.
At the aforementioned press conference, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised Gao's voice for the "dislocated, the abandoned, and the oppressed." The 10th term Representative said the regime passed up the opportunity to make the Olympics a time for greater openness.
"[Instead, Communist China] sees it as a mandate for further control and repression of the Chinese people," said the Congresswoman. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said, "Without substantial concrete progress in human rights within the next year, the Olympic celebration in Beijing will ring hollow." A number of steps have to be taken, she said, to demonstrate they are worthy of Olympic host, including ending the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and ending support for the genocidal regime in Sudan.
Gao explains how the promises China made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) back in 2001 were hallow and deceitful:
"What the Chinese authorities failed to predict is how wildly the corrupted officials are taking advantage of the Olympics. Under the name of securing the success of the Olympic Games, all kinds of evils have been committed in broad daylight, including forced evictions, illegal arresting and persecuting people who petition to the authorities, and the suppression of religious people.
"It is plain as day to all Chinese people that, with successes in hosting the Olympic Games, the communist regime is trying to [appear as a] legal government despite all the tyranny and all horrible crimes against humanity the Party has committed during the past decades at the cost of at least 80 million Chinese lives."
Attorney Gao was first arrested on August 15, 2006, a few months after the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a resolution supporting him. Gao had been forbidden by the regime to communicate with the outside world as a condition for his release. However, Gao broke the gag order after seeing that the Chinese communist regime not only did not improve human rights in China as promised to the IOC, but instead, has intensified its persecution of the Chinese people.
Gao knows that he and his family may suffer a lot for his open letter on the Olympics, but he said, "If we all back off because of this fear, then who will step up?"
David Kilgour, former Canadian MP and Secretary of State for Asia, spoke of the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners and the ongoing genocide in China. He said he was "dismayed" that nations would want to attend the Beijing Olympics when people are being killed for their beliefs.
Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament, spoke at the news conference via telephone. He said the perpetrators of the Falun Gong genocide will need to be brought to justice in the same way the guilty were in Cambodia.
Kilgour also disclosed that he has spoken with officials at the Department of State (DOS) and presented the 33 pieces of evidence described in his booklet that he coauthored on the organ harvesting of living Falun Gong practitioners. Despite the hard evidence, the DOS officials he spoke with will not admit that Falun Gong practitioners are being killed, he said. He said it would mean they would have to reassess their foreign policy vis-à-vis China, including the Olympics.
Murder of American Teacher in China Alleged
MP Kilgour was not the only one speaking at this press conference who was particularly frustrated by the DOS. Maxine Russell said that her late son, Darren Russell, 30, from Calabasas, Calif, was murdered in Guangzhou, on April 14, 2005, and that she has an autopsy report of her son's body that proves it beyond any doubt. (Ms. Russell brought the report to the hearing.) However, until recently, the Department of State website listed Darren Russell as an accident, i.e., hit by a truck.
The circumstances are these. Darren Russell was teaching English in Guangzhou to the Decai Language School, an unlicensed, illegal company. He learned, like many who have gone to China to teach, that the promises of wages, living quarters, and teaching load are not as advertised. It's not uncommon where corruption is pervasive for the foreigner teachers to become virtually indentured servants. Russell got into a dispute about the long hours (he was promised 20 hours a week), seven days a week, and no work permit with the director who was holding his U.S. passport. He was terminated on the spot and forced to move out of the living quarters within an hour. He was taken to a hotel. About this time the local police confiscated his passport. Then he was robbed of his money and valuables at the hotel. He called his parents in California and left a message, "I'm scared. I've never been so scared in all my life." On the day he left this message, he died mysteriously.
It's understandable why he was scared; he had no money, no passport and knew that the school was illegal. His parents wired him money but without identification, he couldn't get it. They called the American consulate in Guangzhou, which by regulation are supposed to assist American citizens overseas. The consulate, which comes under DOS, wouldn't help. Since his death, they have been evasive and unresponsive to questions, according to Maxine Russell.
The autopsy report says he died from a "blunt force trauma to head and brain," and not from being hit by a truck as the police reported his death. This report conducted by a pathologist in the U.S. plus the message Darren left on their phone confirmed for Maxine Russell that the police or the employer conspired with the consulate in Guangzhou to cover up the cause of her son's death.
His mother said September 24 that the DOS finally removed Darren's name and cause of death from their website. She said they know they can't defend it any longer.
Maxine Russell further said that she knows other cases like her son's where a young, foreign teacher was exploited and killed and the deed was covered up by the Chinese Communist Party. Her purpose for coming to the hearing was to give her voice to still another reason to attorney Gao's for boycotting the Beijing Olympics. Ms. Russell says that a regime that has so little respect for law and life should not be hosting the Olympic Games.