Rally for Chen Guangcheng
The blind Human Rights activist Chen Guangcheng's safety is still a grave concern, and this can be evidenced by the arrest of his relatives and friends who had helped with his escape. News coming out of China in both western media and Chinese Weibo has indicated that the Chinese government may have already reneged on their promises to American diplomats. From tweets posted by his friend and Human Rights lawyer Teng Biao, with whom Chen was able to have an open communication for a brief period of time after he left the U.S. embassy, the condition at the hospital Chen and his family are staying has deteriorated as soon as the American diplomats are out of sight, to the point where his two young children were starved for hours as the security people blocked many attempts of contact from his concerned friends and supporters. In the meantime, Mr. Chen hasn't been able to reach his mother and other family members in his hometown, in his own words: "I don't know what's happened to my mother. There are guards inside the yard, in all the rooms, even on the roof. They've set up lots of cameras in my home and are preparing electric fences. They told my family they'd take wooden sticks and beat my family to death, so it's very unsafe." (In an interview with NPR on 5/2/12) Therefore, it is totally understandable that Mr. Chen has changed his mind about staying in China and now wants to seek asylum in U.S. for himself and his family.
It is imperative that we honor Mr. Chen's explicit wishes, whether it is to stay in China or seeking asylum abroad. From earlier news accounts there are questions of whether Mr. Chen was pressured to leave the embassy on the threat of his family being used as hostages. In light of the new development, we believe granting him some forms of protection from imminent harm is not only our moral duty but smart diplomacy too. We need to demonstrate our firm conviction in support of Universal Human Rights and the people who are at great risk to themselves champions of these ideas.
The Chinese authority has already changed their rhetoric and now demanded an apology from U.S. for "infringing upon internal affairs of China." This regime has time and again shown its utter contempt for its citizens seeking human dignity and religious freedom. At every turn it has meted out harsh punishment at political dissidents and religious minorities. There is no question what kind of fate awaits Mr. Chen and his supporters if we turn our back on them now. Already many of the people involved in rescuing him from his house confinement have been kidnapped and illegally detained by the security apparatus, or under house arrest or close surveillance. They include He Pei Rong (何培蓉)，Chen Ke Gui (陈可贵)，Chen Hua (陈华)，Chen Guang Fu (陈光福), Zeng Jin Yan (曾金雁), Guo Yu Shan (郭玉闪). And the list may still grow. We urge you and the administration to keep pressure on the Chinese government to account for their whereabouts. They have not committed any crime and should be released promptly.
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