WASHINGTON—Jiang Tianyong, a veteran human rights lawyer, was unlawfully arrested during Obama’s visit to China recently, and is under further threat from the Chinese regime for seeking a meeting with the American president during that time, said Congressman Chris Smith.
Rep. Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, was prompted to hold an emergency press conference on Capitol Hill Nov. 23. He said that unless action is taken by the U.S. government, the communist regime may ratchet up the persecution of Jiang with a “show trial” and imprisonment in a forced labor camp.
“Several leading dissidents were rounded up, harassed, punched, beaten, threatened, and detained immediately prior to, during, and after the president’s visit.” said Congressman Smith.
Prior to his arrest, Jiang had just returned to China after spending four weeks in the United States. He had testified on Capitol Hill twice on his experience defending victims of forced abortions and sterilizations, part of China’s repressive one-child policy. Congress had an obligation to protect their witnesses, said Rep. Smith, and the harassment and threats to Jiang were an attack on the Congress.
The U.S. Embassy initiated the idea that Jiang and other defense rights lawyers meet with President Obama when the latter was in China, according to an interview Jiang gave to Human Rights in China (HRIC). The embassy became noncommittal and eventually said “no” to Jiang when he called from a location near the embassy, he said.
Immediately after this phone call to the embassy, 200 police pulled up and interrogated Jiang and a colleague for over an hour, Jiang said. He and his colleague were held until Obama departed that afternoon. The following morning Jiang was arrested when he and his wife were taking their seven-year-old daughter to school.
When Jiang challenged the lawfulness of his detention, the police told him that he was held for “attacking the police,” according to Amnesty International. Jiang told HRIC that he learned later that “during his detention, two policemen went to his daughter’s school and told her teacher that they were there because her father beat a policeman.”
After more than 13 hours of questioning, Jiang was told he could go home. He told HRIC that the chief interrogator, Huang Bo, said to him, “You have not seen the last of this yet.”
These words are what worry Congressmen Frank Wolf and Smith. Surveillance of Jiang has intensified with more police, and an additional police car, said Rep. Smith. His home had already been under surveillance since July 31 when a booth was set up outside Jiang’s apartment—it is manned 24 hours a day.
Obama Urged to Act
Rep. Smith expressed annoyance that Chinese authorities would mistreat human rights defenders, especially in response to an American president’s visit, and called it “an affront” to decent and civilized people.
Rep. Smith called upon the U.S. government to act. He suggested President Obama call Chinese regime leader Hu Jintao and tell him Jiang should not be harmed just because he wanted to talk to Obama.
The U.S. ambassador to China should drive over to Jiang’s home and “stand with him,” said Rep. Smith. Rep. Wolf agreed, saying, “That’s what previous administrations did.”
Jiang's Work Puts His Life in Danger
Jiang spoke of a 24-year old woman’s ordeal of forced abortion during his testimony at Capitol Hill on Nov. 10.
“The officials held her on the bed and gave her a poisonous shot, despite that her due date was soon. The needle went through her belly to the nine-month old fetus. The woman said, ‘At first, I could feel my baby was kicking; after a while it stopped.’ Ten hours later, she gave birth to a dead baby. The official threw the dead baby into a bucket.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said that Jiang has risked his life to tell the world about “the greatest human rights atrocity against women in human history.”
Littlejohn was on the same panel with Jiang at the hearing. She quoted Jiang, who said privately to the others on the panel: “I am worried when I go back to China. If anything happens to me, could you watch out for my wife and my daughter?”