Secretary Clinton Should Take up the Case of Chen Kegui
Washington, D.C. – In response to today’s news that Chen Kegui, nephew of the blind “barefoot” lawyer Chen Guangcheng, has been sentenced to 39 months in prison after a hasty and unfair trial, Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following statement: “This conviction is the latest outrage in the Chinese government’s campaign of persecution against Chen Guangcheng and his family. Chen’s nephew was denied access to his lawyer, and his parents–witnesses and victims of the attack by government thugs against which their son was defending them–were prevented from testifying on his behalf. Chen Guangcheng has said that China lacks the rule of law; this judicial farce confirms his judgment,” said Massimino. Chen Kegui was arrested after he defended his family in April when officials broke into his home and beat his parents after the escape of his uncle, Chen Guangcheng, to the American Embassy. New York University Professor and Chinese law expert Jerome Cohen today called the trial “worse than even the trial of Chen Guangcheng himself in 2006” and observed that Chen Kegui’s trial was held “in ways guaranteed to prevent any possible defense or any possible observer to attend.” He said that Chen Kegui has been coerced into not appealing his conviction. “Secretary Clinton should uphold her promise to Chen Guangcheng’s family and make clear to the new Chinese leadership that today’s sentence is unacceptable. If human rights are at the heart of U.S. diplomacy with China, as Secretary Clinton has said, she should back up those words now by calling for the immediate release of Chen Kegui and the prosecution of those who attacked him and his family.” Massimino has written twice to Secretary Clinton calling on her to speak out about the case. The State Department has raised the case of Chen Guangcheng’s family members with Chinese authorities and should continue to do so with the new Chinese leadership. Human Rights First has followed the treatment of Chinese lawyers and dissidents closely and recently honored Chen Guangcheng with its annual Human Rights Award.