For Immediate Release: May 3, 2012
Washington, DC – In response to reports regarding the safety of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and his family, Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino has issued the following statement:
“The bravery of Chen Guangcheng, his family, and his friends for risking a dangerous escape from abusive local Chinese authorities is inspiring. His daring defiance of a brutal regime gives courage to those in China and beyond who struggle for human rights.
“I commend the American diplomats who helped Mr. Chen get to the American embassy, sheltered him there, and negotiated on his behalf with Chinese authorities. It is a credit to the United States that Mr. Chen looked to American diplomats for help and protection. We now owe him our best efforts to ensure his safety.
“If China is prepared to live up to its end of the bargain and allow Mr. Chen to remain in China to study law, and him and his family to live unmolested, this would be a breakthrough for human rights in China. However, given his treatment at the hands of the Chinese government, Mr. Chen has good reason to fear for his safety. If Mr. Chen and his family conclude that they do not have a secure future in China, the United States should grant him asylum. Secretary Clinton’s plane surely has enough room to bring the family here when she departs from China.
“Let’s not forget that the situation in China is perilous for many. The Chinese Government must not retaliate against the network of activists that assisted Mr. Chen as well as the others who put themselves in jeopardy in hopes of creating a freer China. Their safety should remain at the top of the agenda between China and the United States long after Mr. Chen’s case is resolved. As the events of the past days illustrate, there is no way to sequester human rights from the core of the U.S. –China relationship.”