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Hong Kong gives support to Chen Guangchen

HONG KONG (SE): The Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong diocese launched a website signature campaign addressed to the premier of China, Wen Jiabao, urging the government in Beijing to respect the civil rights of the sight impaired advocate for defenceless life, Chen Guangcheng, on May 1.

Chen escaped from house arrest on April 22 after a 19-month period of confinement. He was granted asylum in the embassy of the United States of America (US) in Beijing, but left under the escort of the US ambassador, Gary Lock, for hospital on May 2.

In a video uploaded on YouTube, Chen disclosed how, during his time under house arrest, officials repeatedly stormed into his home without legal authority and assaulted him and his wife, often for hours on end.

He said that they perpetually told him that they did not need to follow any law.

Chen has named the offending parties and is urging the premier, Wen, to investigate the physical abuse that he and his wife have suffered and to punish those whom he is accusing of abusing their power under the pretext of maintaining stability and protecting his family.

Or Yan-yan, from the Justice and Peace Commission, described what has been done to Chen and his family as barbaric, unreasonable and unscrupulous. “It is deplorable that law and order can be ignored to this extent,” she told the Sunday Examiner.

“What Chen was doing was simply to help marginalised women who want to give birth to their child,” Or continued. “His respect for life is in line with Catholic values. We hope that there will be more people showing their concern for his case.”

The commission expressed its strong opposition to the physical harassment perpetrated by local authorities in China against Chen and his family and relatives.

It is urging Beijing to stop using this tactic against people and to free all those who were involved in helping Chen to escape.

“We urge the Chinese government to respect human rights, implement the rule of law and give Chen Guangchen and his family freedom, so that he can stay in China and freely defend marginalised groups in society,” Or continued.

The commission issued an invitation to parishes in Hong Kong to include Chen in the prayers of the faithful during all Masses from April 28 to May 6, as well as to organise community prayer for his cause during that period.

The commission is also urging the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association to go to bat for Chen.

Or said that its president is Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao, who is bishop of Linyi, Chen’s hometown. He is also a member of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference, a top advisory body to Beijing, has the approval of the Vatican and the Chinese government and should be in a position to say something.

“He has the responsibility to voice support for his fellow townsman, his family and those who are now in danger because they helped him,” Or noted.

“Chen has helped victims file lawsuits against the illegal enforcement of the one-child policy. We hope Bishop Fang will not stay silent in the face of government pressure,” Or stated.

“The China Church should not just fight for its own religious freedom, it has to help protect the rights of people in society,” she concluded.

Chen was named among Time magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2006. In 2007, he was also chosen for the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is sometimes referred to as the Asian Nobel Peace Prize.

However, his wife was prevented from leaving China to travel to Manila, The Philippines, to accept the award on his behalf.

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