U.S. Congress Members Appeal to Beijing on Human Rights Day

By Ronny Dory & Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, several members of Congress protested the abduction and imprisonment of Dr. Wang Bingzhang, widely regarded as the founder of the China pro-democracy movement.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Dec. 10, Dr. Wang’s daughter delivered a first-hand report of her recent visit with her father, who is serving a life sentence in solitary confinement for his pro-democracy writings and activities.

Other human rights violations were discussed at the press conference. The incoming Obama Administration was urged by the Congress representatives and human rights organizations to make human rights a priority.

Congresswoman lleanna Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-sponsored the congressional resolution, which urged Beijing to release Dr. Wang. The House Resolution passed 399 to 0 in May 2004.

“Yet we are still here today, years after the passage of that resolution, [and] he remains in prison, sentenced to life in prison,” said Representative Ros-Lehtinen.

In June 2002, Dr. Wang was kidnapped in Vietnam and secretly brought to China. The “trial” lasted only half a day and no evidence or witnesses were presented. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva, Switzerland regards Dr. Wang’s imprisonment as a case of arbitrary detention.

His 19-year old daughter, Ms. Ti-Anna Wang, recently traveled alone to China to see her father, according to the press advisory issued by Initiatives for China, which sponsored this event and shares Dr. Wang’s philosophy of nonviolent advancement of democratic principles of government. Incidentally, Dr. Wang named his daughter, Ti-Anna, after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Caylan Ford of FDIC noted that the Chinese regime “used the Olympics as pretext to escalate rights abuses against dissidents.” (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Wang was allowed 40 minutes with her father, separated by a glass partition and under the surveillance of two prison guards.

“I was relieved when I was finally able to see him and he was cheerful enough to smile,” said Ti-Anna Wang. “But my father’s situation is becoming ever more critical and his time is running out.” Dr. Wang suffers from poor health, she said. Dr. Wang’s family is allowed one visit per month, each lasting 30 minutes.

Congressman Chris Smith urged the Chinese regime to release Dr. Wang and all prisoners of conscience, while also mentioning his recent appeal to Beijing to stop the forced abortion of a Uyghur woman, named Artzigul Tursum.

“We need to talk more about Tibetan Buddhist, the Falun Gong, the Uyghurs and all those people of faith that are suffering at the hands of the Chinese government,” said Congressman Smith. Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia also shared supportive words.

Caylan Ford of the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC) spoke on human rights violations in China this year with Beijing hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. “…human rights observers noted that it not only failed to make substantial improvements [as it promised to do], but instead actually used the Olympics as pretext to escalate rights abuses against dissidents.”

The Congressional Executive Committee on China found references to a pre-Olympic crackdown on Falun Gong and other dissident groups on government websites in all of China’s 31 provincial-level jurisdictions.

“Chinese media reported on dozens of Falun Gong adherents who had been arrested and sentenced, often because they distributed literature about human rights abuses to their compatriots,” said Ford.

Ford said FDIC found that from Dec. 2007 to May 2008, over 8,000 Falun Gong adherents were incarcerated. Some among them were killed in police custody within just days or weeks of their arrest.

Dr. Lee Edward of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation addressed the gathering. “There are these words at the base of the memorial: ‘To the freedom and independence of all peoples and nations.’ That is why we are here today,” said Dr. Edward. “The truth of about communism must be told.”

Mr. T. Kumar, advocacy director of Amnesty International, expressed hopes for the next presidential administration. “Let’s hope that President-elect Obama takes human rights seriously in China and in other countries. Corporate power is there [to silence our protests], [but] we hope that President-elect Obama will rise up against that and speak out.”

Mr. Kumar spoke directly to the members of Congress, urging them not to view human rights as a Republican or Democrat issue and to “ keep the fire to the feet” of President-elect Obama, so that he will act.

On the same day that the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was being honored safely on Capitol Hill, in China, a document called the “Charter 08,” was published by Chinese dissidents and others on December 10 to celebrate the 60th anniversary. The Charter advocates human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as the basis of China’s political system, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Several prominent signatories of the document were arrested by the Chinese regime, says HRW.

“Concern is mounting over the case of Liu Xiaobo, one of China’s most well-known dissidents, who remained in police custody 48 hours after he was taken from his home on December 8 … Liu, a writer, a former teacher at Beijing Normal University, and the director of the independent Chinese PEN Center, is a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. He has repeatedly been subject to various forms of incarceration,” says HRW.

Zhang Zuhua, who also signed the Charter and was detained and released after 12 hours, fears Liu will be charged with “incitement to subvert state power.”

Last Updated
Dec 11, 2008