WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A committee of U.S. House lawmakers voted Thursday to recognize the plight of a blind pro-life Chinese activist who has been imprisoned and viciously beaten by authorities for exposing a local program of forced abortions and sterilizations.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously to pass U.S. Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) amendment to the State Department 2012 appropriation bill, supporting Chen Guangcheng and his wife, who have been punished for Chen’s pro-life activities and are currently under house arrest. Chinese officials have gone so far as to lock down the village where Chen is imprisoned in a bid to keep the human rights activist from communicating awith the outside world.
Chen was arrested in 2006 for exposing evidence of government officials performing 130,000 forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations on women in Linyi County, Shandong Province in a single year. Time Magazine named him one of “2006’s Top 100 People Who Shape Our World” and he was given the 2007 Magsaysay award, known as Asia’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The House committee vote was praised by human rights activists who have been trying to raise political and public awareness about Chen’s treatment at the hands of China’s communist authorities.
China Aid and Women’s Rights Without Frontiers are advocating for Chen’s freedom, saying the activist’s health is declining from repeated severe beatings and malnutrition while under arrest. The activists cite a letter they say was recently smuggled out of China by Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, in which she expressed grave concern about Chen’s chances for survival.
“We thank Rep. Chris Smith for his leadership in sponsoring this far-reaching amendment, which urges the Chinese government to stop harassing the Chen family, to release them from house arrest, and to arrange for immediate medical treatment,” said Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. “We thank Rep. Chris Smith for his leadership in sponsoring this far-reaching amendment, which urges the Chinese government to stop harassing the Chen family, to release them from house arrest, and to arrange for immediate medical treatment.”
Smith’s amendment also urges the Obama administration to reach out through its embassy and establish contact with Chen. It also decries China’s program of forced abortion and coercive family planning measures.
“This historic amendment also raises the issue of the harassment, arrest, disappearance and disbarment of Chinese human rights lawyers and defenders,” added Bob Fu, President of China Aid. “We hope to see the Obama administration take effective action on behalf of Chen and other human rights defenders who are suffering incalculable harm as a result of their courage to stand up for human rights in China.”