Ben Johnson

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Chen Guangcheng honored for his life of activism

Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who has waged a legal battle against China’s one-child policy, has been honored for exhibiting the same spirit as those who fought against the Nazis during World War II.

On October 25, he received the highest award bestowed by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, “for the courage he showed – in the spirit of Oxi Day – to promote democratic values and fundamental rights in China.” 

Every October 28, Greece celebrates “Oxi Day” to remember Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas’ refusal to give fascist Italy free use of Greek land, pulling the nation into World War II. “Oxi” is Greek for “no.”

The blind lawyer accepted the honor at at Washington’s Willard Intercontinental Hotel “on behalf of the heroes…who dare to say ‘No!’ to lies and violence.”

“Now things are practically as bad as they were during the days of the Cultural Revolution,” he said. “Human rights defenders are disappeared, sent to labor camps, locked up in psychiatric hospitals, or detained in illegal jails.”

“Let us all learn from the Greek people from the 1940’s. When faced with powerful evil, let us take the first step to overcome fear, and resolutely dare to say ‘No!’” he said.

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At the same program, Dr. Fouzia Saeed, a female rights activist who has spent a decade fighting sexual harassment in Pakistan, received the Battle of Crete Award.

The ceremony, which included the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, also honored three veterans of World War II, including former Congressman Benjamin Gilman, R-NY. 

Earlier that morning, the foundation presented the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. 

Last year the foundation honored Jamel Bettaib, one of five young Tunisian men credited with starting the Arab Spring uprisings throughout the region. 

Chen, who is studying at New York University after escaping long house arrest, said he suffered “cruel and inhumane persecution.”

“When I was in jail and under detention, I said ‘No’ many times,” he said.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer, exposed the extent of forced abortion and corruption in the Chinese countryside. After a brief stint in prison, Chinese officials converted his village into an elaborate prison, where he and his family members endured savage beatings that sometimes lasted hours.

In April, he scaled the village walls and escaped his captors, breaking his foot in the process. After U.S. officials reportedly convinced him to leave the U.S. Embassy by passing on Chinese threats against his wife’s well-being, Chen eventually secured a student visa.

While visiting D.C., Chen also visited Radio Free Asia, which he credited with informing his activism on behalf of women and the rule of law. 

Chen concluded his acceptance speech by expressing hope for his country’s future. “At this moment, the people of China are waking up very quickly, and more and more people are no longer afraid. And this terrifies those in power more than anything else,” he said.

Chen encouraged those in the audience to “take action to save China from its kidnappers. For the sake of freedom, constitutional democracy, rule of law, and justice, let us act, and act quickly!”

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