Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference with Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng

June 25, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Chinese lawyer and dissident Chen Guangcheng, and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) today for a press conference to make public the decision by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the detention of Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui, by the Chinese government.  In her remarks, Leader Pelosi called for the Chinese government to respect the rights of its people by granting Chen Kegui’s immediate and unconditional release.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Chairman Smith, for your long-term, ongoing, and effective leadership on behalf of human rights throughout the world and in China, as well.  Congressman Chris Smith and Congressman Frank Wolf and I have worked together for many years on this subject.  I wish we had more improvement to report.

“But here we are with Chen Guangcheng, a real hero.  To be in his presence fills me with awe, because he’s so courageous.  He’s a person of such bravery, willing to risk his life to advocate for the disadvantaged people of China.  He’s an inspiration to freedom-seeking people everywhere.

“Today, we are gathered here to talk about Chen Kegui, and his father is here with us as well as his uncle, Chen Guangcheng.  The government of China continues to detain him.  They treat him abusively.  These are not the actions of a confident government.  To abuse and intimidate the families of human rights activists, and to do so with impunity, is wrong, and that’s why we are speaking out.  But it’s not, again, the act of a confident power.  These are the acts of a government afraid of its people and afraid of the simple act of standing up to those who lobby for justice, accountability, and for democracy.

“I’m very excited to be here with this distinguished group of advocates for human rights.  I think it’s being announced today – Chairman Smith announced it, anyway – the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.  I commend that Working Group for its recent ruling that Chen Kegui is being held in violation of international law.  As the Chairman said, the ruling states, and I’ll repeat it, that the Chinese government should take the necessary steps to remedy the situation which, as Chairman Smith said, would include the immediate release of Chen Kegui and to grant him compensation for the harm he had suffered during the period of his detention.

“The Chinese government continues to detain and imprison many prisoners of conscience, including Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.  All Chinese and Tibetan prisoners of conscience should be released.  The Chinese government would like to tell those people that they are forgotten.  We are saying to the world: ‘We will never forget.’  Every one of them is precious to us and precious in the eyes of God.  And we will keep speaking out.  We hope that they know and that they can hear that we fully, fully are working very hard for their release, and we want to be sure that the Chinese government knows that these acts of cowardice on their part are revealed for what they are in the rest of the world.

“So together, we will continue to fight for progress, democracy, and human rights in China and around the world. It’s a big country – China.  It’s a great country.  It’s an important relationship to the U.S.  But Chairman Smith and I agree: We lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights if we do not speak out for human rights in China, despite the economic strength of the country and the rest.

“And that’s why I‘m so glad we are here with Jared Genser, founder of Freedom Now.  He has been an articulate, generous champion for those whose human rights have been violated.  He, too, is a hero to all of us.  I’m very honored to yield to Chen.”