Exiled dissident says China must honour commitments

Thursday 02 August 2012 07.26
Chen Guangcheng said Beijing had not honoured guarantees made to him
Chen Guangcheng said Beijing had not honoured guarantees made to him

Exiled Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng called on the authorities in Beijing to investigate his case and protect members of his family who remain in the country.

Mr Chen, who escaped house arrest in China and fled to the US embassy, was speaking from the US Congress.

The 40-year-old blind human rights lawyer said Beijing had not honoured guarantees made to him when he left China.

He was flanked by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, and Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Boehner paid tribute to the "sacrifices" Mr Chen and his family had made and said the US has the responsibility to hold China to account on human rights.

"We can't remain silent when fundamental human rights are violated, we can't remain silent when religious liberty remains under attack, we cannot remain silent regarding China's reprehensible one-child policy," Mr Boehner told a news conference.

Ms Pelosi said it was an honour to be in the same room as Mr Chen, describing him as a "manifestation" of the cause for human rights in China.

Mr Chen, 40, moved to the US in May with his wife and two children after a dramatic escape from house arrest in China's Shandong province to the US Embassy in Beijing.

He had documented forced abortions and other abuses by local authorities. He is currently studying at New York University School of Law.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Chen complained that three months after promising to investigate the abuses he and his family suffered in China, its government has yet to contact him and he expressed doubt that any such investigation had even begun.

"If a case as high profile as mine can't be handled properly in accordance with Chinese law and international legal norms, how are we able to believe that China will respect human rights and the rule of law?" he said.

He said the human rights situation in China is deteriorating but change is inevitable as increasing numbers of citizens shed their fears and assert their rights.

He said equality, justice and freedom do not have borders, and the forces of history toward development and democracy "are something no one can stay in the way of."

Mr Chen drew attention to the case of his nephew Chen Kegui, who has been charged with attempted homicide after he fought with local officials who stormed into his father's house looking for Chen Guangcheng following his escape in late April.

He said his nephew had used a kitchen knife to defend himself to avoid being beaten to death.

Chen Kegui's was among dozens of cases raised by the US government during its annual human rights dialogue with China last week.

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