Chen Guangcheng to testify before Congress on human rights

The forced abortion critic will speak before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights tomorrow.
By Ben Johnson

By Ben Johnson

Updated at 10:30 a.m. EDT on April 9 to include information about Congressman Christopher Smith.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2013 ( – Human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, the most public foe of China's forced abortion policy, will speak before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights tomorrow.

The hearing, "Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng: Human Rights in China," will focus on Beijing's dismal record of human rights abuses, something many politicians said would improve if the nation were granted permanent most favored nation trading status in 2001.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-NJ, invited Chen to testify. Congressman Smith has a long history with Chen, advocating for his release, visiting him in China, and greeting the dissident when he stepped off his plane and onto U.S. soil. Congressman Edward R. Royce, R-CA – the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the Tea Party caucus – reportedly extended the invitation.

Last May, Chen spoke to the same committee from a hospital bed in Beijing via the cell phone of ChinaAid President Bob Fu, who was testifying inside the Capitol in person.

“I’m not a hero,” the activist, who is often identified by his trademark sunglasses, told the chamber. “I just do what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent, I cannot be quiet when facing these evils against women and children, and so this is what I should do,” he said, as translated by ChinaAid president Bob Fu. “I cannot be silent when we see and face these kind of evils.”

Chen escaped house arrest and made his way to the United States last year after a tense diplomatic standoff.

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Chen will be joined by Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, who is currently imprisoned somewhere in western China.

Zhisheng, a successful lawyer, was persecuted after he began defending Chinese Christians and members of the Falun Gong.

Since April 2006 he has been repeatedly imprisoned, tortured, and held incommunicado for as long as 20 months. Gao said that during a 48-hour torture session, his tormentors told him, “We don’t want you to die…We want you to want to die.”

Chen and his family members were also repeatedly beaten.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

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