Following China Dialogue, Chen Kegui Case Should Remain a U.S. Priority
Washington, DC – Today, as Assistant Secretary of States for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner briefs reporters on the recent U.S.-China dialogue on human rights, Human Rights First is urging the administration to make the case of Chen Kegui, nephew of the blind “barefoot lawyer” and dissident Chen Guangcheng, a priority. Earlier this week, Human Rights First released a letter from Chen Guangcheng regarding his nephew’s case. It read:
You’ve probably heard that I’m now living and studying in New York City. For the first time in many years, I’m free from persecution. But my family members in China are still in danger. In particular, I fear for my nephew.
In April, after the police discovered my escape from my village, a pack of thugs broke into my brother’s farmhouse and brutally beat my brother and my sister-in-law. Fearing for his life, my nephew Kegui tried to fend off the attackers with a kitchen knife and injured one of them.
Kegui, 32, was detained and charged with attempted homicide. No family member has been able to reach him. He’s likely been tortured, and if convicted, he could face the death penalty. Authorities are forcing him to accept government-controlled lawyers—denying him the independent lawyers we’ve tried to retain.
There are laws that could protect my nephew—including laws against torture—but some Chinese officials routinely flout the law with impunity. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.
In Washington today and tomorrow, the United States will continue its Human Rights Dialogue with China. Please join me in calling on American officials to highlight my nephew’s case with their Chinese counterparts. They should press the Chinese government to allow Kegui:
- To contact family members
- To be represented by the lawyers of his choice
In April, I sought protection at the American Embassy in China because the United States is supposed to represent human rights. I called on U.S. officials to live up to American ideals. Please help me urge them to do so again.