NEW YORK — The deteriorating human rights situation in China should inspire action on the part of the Chinese government and people, as well as the international community, said pro-life advocate Chen Guangcheng.
“Unfortunately, the human rights situation in China is in fact getting worse,” the blind activist warned.
“This has to garner more attention from the world,” he said. “And the United States, in particular, as a beacon of freedom, needs to play a leading role.”
In a video recorded several days before World Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, Chen detailed the human rights abuses that are still regularly occurring in his home country.
“The violence in maintaining China’s ‘one-child policy’ still extensively exists,” he said, speaking in Chinese. “It is a sin, because life is sacred.”
Chen — a self-taught human rights lawyer — made international headlines in April when he escaped from house arrest and was taken in by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
He has been blind since his youth, and spent years in prison after angering Chinese government officials by exposing brutal practices such as forced abortions and sterilizations tied to the nation’s one-child policy.
Chen said that he and his family had been beaten and refused medical attention during that time. He agreed to leave the U.S. Embassy only after the Chinese government promised that he would be safe and treated humanely.
However, shortly after being transported to a Beijing hospital on May 2, the pro-life activist voiced concerns that China was not keeping its promises.
After several days of heightened international attention, Chen and his immediate family were allowed to travel to the United States, where he was offered a fellowship to study law and learn English at New York University's law school.
In his latest video, Chen thanked everyone who has helped him, while also calling for increased efforts to bring real change to China.
“Today, I am standing here because I am in a free world,” he said. “Yet my family in China, as well as tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen, are still in an authoritarian regime. They are not free.”
“Citizens of the world, let your voice be heard in support of justice,” he said, calling on nations to “shift their focus from trade to human rights.”
Chen reported that the Chinese government has “enacted revenge” on his family members and friends remaining in the country.
He pointed to his nephew, Chen Kegui, who was recently sentenced to three months in jail, as well as others who have been harassed, illegally detained or have disappeared.
“The Communist Party officials at every level continue to act against the state law and humanity,” he said, adding that “no one is safe.”
Chen spoke directly to the Communist leader of China, saying, “Mr. Xi Jinping, the whole nation is watching you.” He warned Xi that his decision on whether to reform the government or simply protect the interests of the party will determine if China transforms peacefully or violently.
“Do not send out the wrong signals to party officials that they can continue acting without any restraint,” he said, urging an end to the government’s abuse of power and the release of prisoners of conscience.
Chen also spoke to the people of his countrymen, telling them that they can and should “join together to work for our own rights.”
“God helps them who help themselves,” he emphasized, calling the people of China to stand up for “a fair and just social system.”
Advocates of life and liberty in China called on world leaders to heed Chen’s message. Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid, said the ongoing human rights abuses should put the international community “on alert that it is time to set a new course for human rights and trade with China.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights without Frontiers, said that the one-child policy causes “deep social unrest” in society and “is perhaps the most hated of all the official policies in China.”
“No policy this unjust can last forever,” Littlejohn said. “The leaders of the United States should join Chen in calling for a peaceful transition away from policies that are oppressing and terrorizing the people of China, who are one fifth of the population of the earth.”