Earlier this week, blind human rights activist and forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng escaped his brutal house arrest and fled to the American embassy, where he released a video describing the torture he and his wife had suffered and demanded an investigation:
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Chen sought asylum at the US embassy, but now he’s back in the custody of Chinese officials, who will torture and probably kill him for fighting for human rights and embarrassing them. His home has been turned into a prison and he was forced to leave the US embassy after the Chinese government threatened his family.
From the hospital, a frightened Chen called Britain’s Channel 4 News:
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Hillary Clinton won’t meet with him and the US Ambassador escorted him into Chinese custody – and probably to his death. The Obama Administration has betrayed a human rights activist and sent a chilling message to all dissidents and freedom fighters worldwide: don’t look to America for help. Our Marxist president will side with the oppressors and betray the oppressed.
Threats to beat his wife to death forced blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to leave his refuge at the US embassy in Beijing, he said on Wednesday night.
US officials warned him of the threat from the Chinese side, he said in an interview from his hospital room in Beijing. He told Associated Press that he feared for his safety and wanted to leave the country.
AP said a US official denied knowledge of the threat, but said Chen was told his family would be sent back to eastern Shandong province – where they have lived under extra-legal house arrest – unless he complied with the deal to stay in China and study.
Hillary Clinton had earlier said that the handling of his stay and departure “reflected his choices and our values”, adding that China had offered him understandings he could pursue higher education in a safe environment.
“Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task,” added the secretary of state, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday. Chen also told his lawyer that he had “received clear assurances”.
But supporters had already expressed grave concern about whether his safety could be protected if he remained in China and news of the threats emerged when Zeng Jinyan, a friend of Chen, said he told her in a phone call that he needed her help.
Friends and human rights activists had already questioned the value of assurances of safety.
“It raises the question of whether we can trust the promises not to retaliate against Chen Guangcheng and his family and supporters,” said Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch.
“It’s very difficult to see how China can honour the bargain given that the suppression of human rights activists and government critics are embedded in its political situation. This is what they do day in and out … There are no reassurances I can trust that Chen and his family will remain safe in the long term.”
In his phone call to Channel 4 News, Chen claimed that the American Embassy abandoned him and that he wanted help to leave China with his family for their safety:
Following early reports that the United States and China struck a deal for Chen to reportedly stay in China, the forced abortion opponent says the Obama administration has abandoned him and he now seeks help in leaving the country.
Chen has left the U.S. Embassy and headed to a local hospital for medical treatment following his years of house arrest by family planning and Communist Party officials. Late last week, Chen fled his hometown after escaping and supporters drove him to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after they were unable to keep him safe in homes in the Asian nation’s capital. When Chinese authorities attempted to apprehend him, he fled to the U.S. Embassy for protection.
U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke escorted Chen, according to an AP report, to the Chaoyang Hospital. However, the human rights group ChinaAid says received reports from reliable source that Chen’s decision for departure from the U.S. Embassy was done reluctantly because “serious threat to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government” if Chen refused to accept the Chinese government’s offer.
Now, Chen has spoken to the media for the first time and says he has been abandoned at the hospital.
“Nobody from the (US) Embassy is here. I don’t understand why. They promised to be here,” he told Channel 4, saying he had received promises he would have U.S. personnel with him there.
Asked if he was at the hospital because of his health, Chen told Channel 4, “No. I came because of an agreement. I was worried about the safety of my family. A gang of them have taken over our house, sitting in our room and eating at our table, waving thick sticks around. They’ve turned our home into a prison, with seven cameras and electric fence all around.”
He also said he wants to stay in China: “My biggest wish is to leave the country with my family and rest for a while. I haven’t had a Sunday [rest-day] in seven years.”
The Obama administration is disputing Chen’s account, saying Chen wanted to stay in China and that it negotiated with the Chinese on that ground. Secretatry of State Hillary Clinton, according to Challen 4, has promised the United States will keep tabs on Chen from here — promising to “remain engaged” with his case.
“The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Mr Chen and his family in the days, weeks and years ahead,” she said in a statement asking Chinese officials to leave Chen alone.
But House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he was disturbed by reports that Chen was pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy.
“In such a situation, the United States has an obligation to stand with the oppressed, not with the oppressor,” Boehner said in a statement.
[T]he United States should be ashamed. We have sacrificed a fundamental moral issue for commercial and political gain. We should have welcomed Chen in the embassy as we did Fang Lizhi and demanded that Chen’s wife and son be delivered to the safety of the U.S. Embassy, after which negotiations on Chen could begin.
Chinese dissidents now understand that the U.S. is a paper tiger worried more about the Chinese exchange rate and United Nations vetoes than about fundamental issues of human rights. Events of the last few months should have taught us that China is far from a “normal” country. We do not have to spare the hurt feelings of the polite gentlemen in impeccable business suits that rule China. I wonder if the U.S. will receive any tangible benefits from its cowardice?
Cross posted at ThoughtsFromAConservativeMom.com
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