5-30-2012By Elisa Massimino
President and CEO of Human Rights First
Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng risked everything when he escaped house arrest and fled to the American embassy in Beijing.
His safe arrival in the United States is not the end of the story. China’s persecution of its dissidents is only intensifying. Like Mr. Chen, many public interest lawyers in China are using the system to challenge the system—and are paying a terrible price as a result.
Secretary Hillary Clinton said that “human rights is at the heart of our diplomacy.” Yet too often, the United States has treated human rights as a diversion from economic and other issues with China. As the environment for Chinese dissidents deteriorates, the United States government can’t allow human rights to once again be pushed to the back burner.
In a piece published today in the New York Times, Mr. Chen writes, “The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.” And he asks the government and people of the United States and other democratic countries to insist that the Chinese government investigate the lawless punishment he suffered.
Today, I wrote a letter to Secretary Clinton, urging her to address the persecution of lawyers and other activists as a top priority of U.S.-China diplomacy. Please join me in this important call!