House Members call on Obama to address Chinese dissidents
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2010) – A bipartisan group of 29 members of the United States House of Representatives signed a letter to urge President Barack Obama to use the looming G20 Summit to call on China to release Chinese prisoners of conscience. The October 4, 2010 letter urges Obama to send a request to Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea from November 11-12, 2010, to release Chinese prisoners of conscience and Freedom Now clients Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with House leaders Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, stated:
“Dr. Liu’s detention is symbolic of the Chinese government’s repression of the peaceful freedom of expression of its citizens. . . .We strongly believe that China must be discouraged from detaining individuals for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
The Congressmen said of Gao Zhisheng: “Mr. Gao’s case marks the first time that the Chinese government has detained such a prominent individual for a sustained period of time. We strongly believe that the United States government and international community must not allow China to continue to cross this line. If lawyers are hauled away for the “crime” of defending their clients, then even the pretense of rule of law in China has failed.”
Gao Zhisheng’s wife, Geng He, who is now a political asylee in the United States with the couple’s two children, thanked the members of Congress who signed the letter saying, “My children and I are so grateful to the Congressmen who asked President Obama to urge the release of my husband and Liu Xiaobo. I can only hope that personal intervention from President Obama will free my husband.”
Liu Xiaobo is a renowned scholar and democracy activist whose role drafting Charter 08 led to his December 2009 sentence of 11 years in prison for “incitement to subvert state power.”
Gao Zhisheng is a human rights lawyer known as the “conscience of China” who was disappeared by the Chinese government in February 2009. He was briefly released in March 2010 and again disappeared on April 20, 2010. He is currently held incommunicado in an unknown location.
Gao Zhisheng’s team of international human rights specialists includes Jerome A. Cohen, Irwin Cotler MP, Albert Ho, David Matas, David Kilgour, and Freedom Now. Liu Xiaobo’s team includes Jerome A. Cohen, David Kilgour, Yang Jianli, and Freedom Now.
Honorary Co-Chairs include the Honorable Václav Havel, former Czech President and the Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, Anglican Archbishop in Capetown, South Africa. www.freedom-now.org