In 1999, Mei said, “I escaped the country that humiliated and destroyed me, and came to the free soil of America.”
Mei became a Christian and, after the brutality of the regime led to her marriage falling apart, reunited with her husband.
“I feel happiness, but know that back in China there are millions of women who are suffering like I did,” she said. “Every day, thousands of young lives are being destroyed.”
Another witness before the subcommittee told of the “systemic elimination of girls” in addition to the forced abortions that “show why Chinese women face a climate so oppressive that a woman takes her life every three seconds.”
Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, told chilling stories of forced abortions at 9 months and of Ma Jihong, a woman who was dragged into a van last October when she was heavily pregnant with her third child and died from the forced abortion.
“I wish I could tell you that these stories were rare, but they are not,” she said. “They are mere glimpses into the dark environment that the one-child policy creates for women. This is the darkness into which Chen Guangcheng tried to shine a light.”
As at the emergency hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on May 3, Chen was reached today on the phone by witness Bob Fu, who sat next to Chairman Smith on the dais as Fu held up the phone to Smith’s microphone.
Chen gave an update on the violent reprisals against his family and friends. This includes the arrest of his nephew, Chen Kegui, on trumped-up manslaughter charges after he wielded a knife to protect his home from intruders looking for his uncle after the house-arrest escape, and the beating of a lawyer for Chen who tried to visit his client in the hospital — who was hit so badly by state security that he lost hearing in one ear.
“This is a pattern already; this is not the first time against my family,” Chen said, his voice cracking, of the violence that also included the beating of his elder brother.
Soon, the witnesses were all up on the dais, gathered around Smith and the voice of Chen, with Reps. Anne Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.), offering their encouragement and vowing to fight for Chen as long as it takes.
“I’m not a hero,” Chen said. “I’m just doing what my conscience asked me to do.”
Smith entered into the congressional record a list of 10 family and friends of Chen whom members are “deeply concerned” about, who have suffered detention or beatings.
Today, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, asking that he take steps to ensure the safety of Chen, his family and associates and let them “travel freely within and outside of China.”
“Mr. Chen Guangcheng’s circumstances are emblematic of the plight of thousands of Chinese rights advocates, such as Hu Jia, Teng Biao, Zeng Jinyan, Gao Zhisheng and many others that work tirelessly and under state-directed threats to their safety and their relatives’ towards greater respect for their fellow citizens’ political and economic rights under Chinese law and China’s international obligations,” the senators wrote. “We urge your government to seize this opportunity to end the harassment of rights advocates and embark on a new path towards greater respect for human rights in China.”
Smith vowed to keep shining light on Chen’s situation and the tragic policy in China under which “brothers and sisters are illegal and women are treated as criminals.”
“They say repeatedly that the program in China is totally voluntary when it is totally involuntary,” Smith said — a point highlighted by today’s sobering testimony.