A Summary of CECC Hearing on Conditions for Political Prisoners and Prospects for Political Reform in China

On December 6, 2011, two days before the 3rd anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s arrest in 2008, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on “One Year after the Nobel Peace Prize Award to Liu Xiaobo: conditions for political prisoners and prospects for political reform.” Eight people spoke at the hearing. Mr. Perry Link, professor emeritus at University of California, Riverside, gave a quick but comprehensive introduction to Liu Xiaobo, his life, his education, his writings, and his imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power.” About Liu Xiaobo’s current situation, he said we knew very little and, as of late 2010, a rights group reported that Liu Xiaobo shared a cell with five other inmates, was allowed monthly visits only while other cell mates were visited on a weekly basis, ate low-quality prison food, and got two hours each day to go outdoors. He could read books his wife brought him but only books published in China.

Ms. Li Xiaorong, an independent scholar, spoke of how the crime of “inciting subversion of state power,” vaguely defined at its best, can be conveniently used by the CCP to serve their political purposes. She said, “From December 8, 2008 to his imprisonment incommunicado today, the persecution of Liu Xiaobo has been marred at each step by violations of his legal-constitutional rights and international human rights.” She urged American government to be “consistent in upholding the principles of freedom and human rights, whether the violations occur in Libya, Syria, Burma, Iran, or China.”

Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International, spoke about the past activities of Liu Xiaobo in the Chinese chapter of Pen International, and her group’s trip to China earlier this year to try to visit Liu Xiaobo. They did not succeed in meeting him, nor his wife who has been held under illegal house arrest, invisible from the public. She told the panel that, while in Beijing, they invited 14 Chinese writers for a roundtable discussion, but all but three were unable to attend because of intervention by guobao (国保, security police). She spoke about the work of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention earlier this year. It “reviewed Liu’s case and ruled that he is being arbitrarily detained in violation of three critical tenets of international law, including Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

Carl Gershman, president of National Endowment for Democracy, spoke of the fundamental flaws of the so-called “China model,” warned against those “who are persuaded of this model’s effectiveness.” Accessing the preconditions and the prospects for democratic reform in China, he presented a mixed picture of increased suppression on the one hand and, on the other, social media and the Internet as a whole driving traditional media over the last few years.

Chai Ling, one of the student leaders in 1989 and the founder of All Girls Allowed, voiced, among other things, her support for a bill in Congress called China Democracy Promotion Act 2011, or HR 2121, that “would allow the President to deny visas to families of China’s leading persecutors of dissidents, pregnant mothers and minorities.” She believes it is a powerful way to show the world where our own nation stands on human rights.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights without Frontiers, reviewed atrocities that have been perpetrated against the blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng for his exposure of large-scale forced abortion and sterilization in Linyi in 2005. She also presented the Chen Guangcheng Report: Coercive Famly Planning in Linyi, 2005, drafted by the celebrated human rights attorney, Teng Biao.

While Harry Wu, executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation & Laogai Museum, urged tougher a stand against China’s human rights abuses, Pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid Association, pointed out that 2011 had seen serious deterioration of human rights, the rule of law and religious freedom in China. He said “about 100 lawyers, rights activists and dissidents have been ‘disappeared,’ tortured, imprisoned and even sentenced to prison terms in the first 11 months of this year.” He described to the panel the increased discrimination against and the persecution of independent religious groups and people of faith.

You can watch video of the hearing on the CCEC site. 

4 responses to “A Summary of CECC Hearing on Conditions for Political Prisoners and Prospects for Political Reform in China”

  1. […] See original here: A Summary of CECC Hearing on Conditions for Political Prisoners … […]

  2. Chopstik says:

    On your section for Chai Ling (who is a controversial figure even among those who don’t always agree with the governmnet), do you mean “allow visas” rather than “deny visas”?

    • yaxue c. says:

      Chopstik, it is “allow the President to deny visas to…..”

      • Chopstik says:

        Ok, I must be going blind. I thought it said for the families of those being persecuted, not the families of those doing the persecuting. I thought that seemed rather strange… Sorry… 🙁

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