Contact: Sharon Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-675-8579
(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International today expresses caution over promises to Chen Guangcheng that he can live a normal life if he remains in China, after the activist and his family spent their first day reunited in a Beijing hospital surrounded by security personnel.
"This is moving target, but: early reviews on China's performance on the "four assurances" -- no persecution of Chen, no intimidation of his family and supporters, Chen free to pursue legal studies, and PRC to launch investigation into what happened in Shandong -- are in, and there is a risk this play will close after opening night," said Frank Jannuzi, head of the Washington office for Amnesty International.
"Fault for the current situation lies with China, not the Obama administration, which has pushed hard to ensure that Chen could live a life free from repression.--Amnesty International calls on US government to hold China responsible for faithfully implementing the assurances provided Chen," said Jannuzi.
"Ultimately, Chen must have the authority to decide whether to stay in China or seek asylum.--too soon to say how Chen will feel when he wakes up in Chaoyang Hospital Wednesday morning" added Jannuzi.
"The full story of what happened when he left the U.S. embassy has yet to emerge, but the fact remains -- China has made guarantees to American officials that Chen Guangcheng could live a normal life in safety in China," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director. "Just as they were making such assurances, the authorities detained Chen's associates and are now targeting his supporters. This smacks of bad faith."
The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue opens in Beijing on May 3.
"The coming days are critical, but the wellbeing of Chen, his family and supporters demands long term scrutiny and international pressure," said Baber. "The Chinese government must honor its commitments to Chen and the U.S. and other governments must continue to insist at the highest levels that it does so."
The U.S. State Department today confirmed that the Beijing authorities told Chen his wife and children would be returned to Shandong province if he remained under U.S. diplomatic protection.
"This account is disturbing -- the implications of a return to Shandong province cannot be overstated, as this is where Chen and his family suffered violent abuse over many months. Reports that they are now afraid and would prefer to leave the country are understandable," said Baber. "U.S. officials must use the Dialogue to insist that Chinese authorities allow Chen to leave China with his family if that remains their wish."
"We have received reports that authorities today surrounded the home of activist and Chen supporter, Zeng Jinyan," added Baber. "Chen's friend, He Peirong, has reportedly been detained in her home since helping him escape from illegal house arrest."
"Part of living a 'normal life' is exercising one's right to freedom of expression and association. We expect the authorities to stand by their commitment to the rule of law and to fully protect the human rights of all citizens. They must allow Chen and his family to speak and meet with whoever they wish, to travel and leave the country whenever they wish."
"This is an unprecedented situation and Amnesty International is closely watching to see how it plays out in the weeks and months to come," added Baber.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.