Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) commented on the one year anniversary of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape to the American embassy in Beijing:
“I am concerned about ongoing harassment and legal actions taken against the extended family of Chen Guangcheng, the human rights defender and activist who left China with his wife and children after taking refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing a year ago this week. Chen’s work included efforts to expose the horrific practice of forced sterilizations and abortions conducted in some areas of China to enforce the ‘One Child Policy.’ At the time, U.S. officials said that the Chinese government had pledged to ‘investigate reported extra-legal activities committed by local Shandong authorities against Mr. Chen and his family.’
“It now appears that the Chinese government is ignoring local officials’ ongoing harassment of his extended family, including threats and intimidation as well as fabricated criminal charges. Authorities are also denying adequate medical treatment in prison to Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui, who is suffering from appendicitis.
“Unfortunately, this is consistent with the persecution faced by relatives of other prominent dissidents. I call on the Obama administration to increase the frequency and level of U.S. interventions on behalf of Mr. Chen’s relatives, including Chen Kegui, as well as the families of other dissidents who have been harassed. The State Department should ensure that the officials involved in these cases do not gain access to U.S. exchange programs and are not able to travel to the United States.
“It is important for the Chinese government to realize that this type of unfair retaliation against the vulnerable family members of those taking personal risks in the struggle for democracy and human rights is detrimental to U.S.-Chinese relations.”