CAPITOL HILL — Prominent Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng testified in front a U.S. congressional panel for the first time Tuesday. The blind activist called on the Obama administration to release diplomatic agreements made with China when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton negotiated his departure from China to the United States almost one year ago.
Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, introduced the self-taught lawyer and human rights activist whose dramatic escape from house arrest to the U.S. embassy last April caught the world’s attention.
"It took a blind man, Chen Guangcheng, to open the eyes of a blind world to these human rights violations systematically inflicted on Chinese women," Smith said.
Chen advocated for the rights of women in China and became known for exposing forced abortions that are part of China’s one-child policy. He told the panel that since his high profile departure from China last year, several of his family members have been beaten and threatened, and his nephew was sentenced to more than three years in prison. He asked the Obama administration to release the diplomatic agreement negotiated with China that his family members must not be harmed and must be compensated for years of persecution. Chen said the abuse must end.
"When the Chinese Communist Central Party Committee can act like this in breaking its promises to me, to the United States and to the whole world, and when it can willfully break agreements in a case that has attracted the world's attention, how can we expect it to improve the human rights situation in other areas?," Chen said.
Geng He, the wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, also testified alongside Chen. She described her family’s nightmare before she and her daughters left China.
"Gao Zhisheng has been brutally persecuted for seven years, in those seven years the police have lived in my house to supervise me and my children. They did not allow my daughters to attend school and they even besieged me and my daughter and beat both of us," Geng He said.
She called on the international community to not forget her husband so that the Chinese government will set him free. China has accused Gao of subversion.