Chen Guangcheng: Open Letter to President Obama, Clinton and Locke

chen guangcheng protest
Protesters wearing sunglasses shout slogans in support of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. The United States faces a tense week in China as high-level talks on trade and global hot spots like Iran and North Korea open in the shadow of a blind Chinese activist's bold escape from house arrest to seek U.S. protection in Beijing. (Reuters/Siu Chiu)

Editor's note: The following open letter is submitted by Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, regarding escaped Chinese forced abortion activist Chen Guangcheng. Many are saying how the U.S. handles the Guangcheng case will test the nation's relations with China.

Dear President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Locke,

We call for official United States protection of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who dramatically escaped house detention and is now said to be at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. As of the writing of this letter, U.S. officials have not promised diplomatic protection for Chen or his family.

As Secretary Clinton travels to Beijing, the moral credibility of the United States on the world stage hangs in the balance. Chen Guangcheng is the Gandhi of our time. He is a man of inconceivable bravery. Poor, blind, beaten and detained, he nevertheless possesses the surpassing backbone to stand alone against the crushing brutality of the communist regime. He is the "Tank Man" against the One Child Policy. He has done this on behalf of the women of China, who for 32 years have suffered the unspeakable torture of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization at the hands of the barbarous Chinese population control machine. Chen Guangcheng is a warrior for women's rights.

At great risk to himself, his family and a wide network of brave supporters, Chen has been delivered safely into our Embassy. Meanwhile, members of his family and key supporters have been beaten or detained.

The entire world is watching. Will you offer official protection to Chen, his family and his key supporters who are now detained? Or will you continue to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party for our economic advantage? Inescapably, the choice you make will symbolize the character of our nation to the world.

Women's Rights Without Frontiers calls upon you to use all diplomatic means to ensure safety for Chen Guangcheng, his family and his key supporters who are currently detained, especially He Peirong, who rescued Chen and is a hero in her own right.

We also ask that you press for Chen's requests that those who have been torturing and persecuting his family be brought to justice, and that corrupt officials who have received money for persecuting Chen be investigated and punished.

The American people—and the people of the world—cry out for freedom for Chen Guangcheng. If you deliver him back into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, he will no doubt be imprisoned, tortured, possibly killed. Would you use this noble man as a bargaining chip in trade talks? To do so would be to sell the soul of our nation.

Reggie Littlejohn is president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a nonpartisan, international coalition to oppose forced abortion and human trafficking in China. She is also an internationally acclaimed expert on China’s One Child Policy. She has twice delivered an address at European Parliament in Brussels concerning the One-Child Policy.


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