Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has again spoken directly to the U.S. Congress from China, this time condemning Chinese authorities for the brutal treatment of his family.
“My elder brother was taken away by these thugs without any reasoning and then they came back and starting beating up my nephew,” Chen said in a phone call and speaking through an interpreter in Washington, “What has been done by these public security officers is a total violation against China’s own constitution and Chinese criminal law and those charges against my nephew is in contradiction of Chinese law as well.”
Chen was speaking to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Tuesday May 15.
It is the second time Chen, a lawyer and outspoken opponent of China’s one child policy, has spoken to Congress after he called into a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing May 3.
Chen escaped house arrest last month and, injured, fled to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. After threats from Chinese authorities that his wife and children would be harmed, he agreed to leave the embassy and was taken to a hospital where he remains. While his immediate family are with him, his extended family have suffered violent retribution for his actions.
Pastor Bob Fu, founder of the ChinaAid association and the contact for Chen, told the hearing that plain clothes policemen had descended on Chen’s brother’s house, severely beating him and his wife. Their son attempted to defend his parents from what he assumed were thugs and attacked the police with a knife.
The nephew has now been charged with attempted murder and could face the death sentence if convicted, Fu said.
Chen, 41, said the violence by authorities was part of “a pattern against me and my family.”
There were sometimes between 40 to 80 officials and guards in and around his home, he said, and he and his wife were regularly beaten.
Chen said he and his wife were again surrounded by guards at the hospital and were unable to receive visitors nor leave the hospital accommodation. His children, however, thought hospital was “wonderful” as they were able to play outside under supervision of nurses.
“You can tell how terrible it has been back in their home town,” he said,”they were only allowed one outing in a day there.”
Chen thanked supporters overseas adding, “especially the American people who show their care about the quality of justice as a universal value.”
When told that he was a hero for his courage in standing up for human rights Chen said, “I am not a hero. I’m just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent when facing these evils against women and children.”
The chairman of the human rights subcommittee, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., said he called the hearing not only to check on the wellbeing of Chen and his family, but also to rally support from Congress and the White House for Chen’s extended family and friends.
“Eleven days later, Mr. Chen is still in the same hospital room, with his wife and two children under de facto house arrest,” Congressman Smith said.
“Although Mr. Chen is under the impression that his application for a passport was made last Sunday when he was visited by a Chinese official, and under Chinese law, blind persons are supposed to be able to apply orally for travel documents, he has not been notified of any further action on the application.”
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