Washington, DC – Human Rights First calls on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise the case of Chen Kegui, nephew of the blind “barefoot lawyer” and dissident Chen Guangcheng, when she meets with Chinese authorities today and tomorrow. Sec. Clinton should raise the case to demonstrate to that she and others at the highest levels of the U.S. government are following the case with concern.
Chen Guangcheng’s nephew was arrested and charged with attempted murder after Chen’s daring escape from house arrest in May. Chen Kegui has been denied access to his lawyers, a violation of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China is a signatory. He was charged after defending his family when local officials stormed into his house and attacked his mother and father. Chen Guangcheng has said that he fears his nephew has been tortured.
“Secretary Clinton pledged that human rights are ‘at the heart’ of U.S. diplomacy with China,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Now is the time to demonstrate that she means it. If Secretary Clinton meets with her counterparts in China and does not raise U.S. concerns about human rights, it will send a message that the United States considers human rights issues peripheral, not ‘at the heart’ of the relationship,” she added. “The situation in China is perilous for many citizens, particularly public interest lawyers and other rights activists who work to protect the human rights of their fellow citizens. There will be no real stability in the U.S.-China relationship so long as Beijing persists in abusing the rights of peaceful dissidents and their families.”
Massimino has written twice to Secretary Clinton calling on her to speak out about the treatment of Chen Kegui; the State Department has responded that it has raised the case of Chen Guangcheng’s family members with Chinese authorities. Human Rights First has followed the treatment of Chinese lawyers and dissidents closely and will honor Chen Guangcheng with its annual Human Rights Award in October.
For more information about this case, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.