Date: May 04 2012
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has phoned in to a US congressional hearing from his Beijing hospital room, pleading for help from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get to the United States.
"I want to meet with Secretary Clinton. I hope I can get more help from her," Chen told Representative Chris Smith in an extraordinary scene on Thursday during a hearing on Chen's case in a congressional commission on human rights in China.
Chen said he wanted his "freedom of travel guaranteed," because he wanted to "come to the United States for some time of rest," according to friend and supporter Bob Fu, who served as translator for the call.
Chen, who helped expose abuses in China's one-child policy in his home province of Shandong, escaped from house arrest on April 22 and made his way to the US embassy in Beijing, where he spent six days before leaving on Wednesday.
Chen, who pressed for an end to forced abortions and sterilisation, left the embassy after Beijing supposedly pledged that he and his family would be treated "humanely" but has since repeatedly expressed fears for his safety.
"I really am fearing for my family members' lives," Chen said.
"The thing I'm most concerned with now is the safety of my mother and my brother, and I really want to know what's going on with them."
Smith told Chen that several of the witnesses at the hearing, including former Chinese dissidents who knew Chen, were "desperately concerned" for him and his family.
"We are praying for you and we will be unceasing in our efforts" to help, Smith said.
Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other US officials are currently in Beijing for scheduled bilateral talks, and Chen's plight has dominated the relationship over the past week.
Smith said Clinton did not meet with Chen while the activist was holed up in the US embassy in Beijing after escaping from house arrest last month.
Smith told Chen that Clinton needed to "go to your hospital room and meet with you, and you and your family and your supporters need to be on a plane coming to the United States for, as you put it, that rest that you so richly deserve."
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.
[ Canberra Times | Text-only index]