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Rep. Christopher H. Smith. (Photo: Office of Congressman Chris Smith.)

Smith: Standing with Chinese Human Rights Defenders

By Congressman Christopher H. Smith, December 07 2021 5:54 pm

OPINION

Pastor Bob Fu first introduced me to Geng He, wife of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Gao has suffered unspeakable torture and gross mistreatment at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

Geng He testified twice at hearings I chaired—first in 2012 and again in 2013.

She testified that Gao Zhisheng’s horrific ordeal “began in 2005 because he defend persecuted Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and other persecuted groups. Because of this, the Chinese Communist authorities shut down his law office and revoked his lawyer’s license and they also openly suppressed and persecuted him…

“…In September 2007, Gao Zhisheng wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress in which he exposed the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party. Because of this, the Chinese Communist policy again put a black hood on Gao Zhisheng’s head and kidnapped him…they took him to a room stripped him naked and brutally beat him. They also used electric batons to attack him all over his body and his genitals, so that his body shook violently, and his skin turned black all over…”

At another hearing I chaired on December 5, 2013, Gao’s daughter Grace made an impassioned appeal to Beijing to free her imprisoned father.  Through her tears, she also asked to meet with President Obama along with 4 other daughters of imprisoned human rights defenders to enlist his help—I worked months and could never get the meeting.

Yesterday the Biden Administration announced a “Diplomatic Boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, to be held in Beijing.

Rather than applauding this, however, we should recognize it for what it is: an exceedingly weak gesture in response to a genocidal regime, which is increasingly acting as if it has no place within the community of civilized nations, with its bullying of other nations—most recently, brave Lithuania.

Yet the Chinese Communist Party has again been awarded the honor of hosting the Olympics—the 2022 Beijing Genocide Olympic Games.

Xi Jinping’s abject cruelty towards all people of faith—Christians, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists—has evolved at his personal direction into genocide against the Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

 

Xi Jingping should be at the Hague for crimes against humanity and genocide—not feted as host of the Olympics. 

So many of our corporations, so ready to virtue signal about “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” initiatives and “Environmental Social and Governance” principles, from the NBA to Apple, nonetheless kowtow to Communist China.

Back in 2018, Senator Rubio and I wrote to the International Olympic Commission—the first of several letters—urging it to review and reassign the 2022 Olympics based upon credible reports of genocide including the mass arbitrary internment of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, not to mention the ongoing gross human rights abuses including torture committed by Xi Jinping and his government.

As you well know, the Chinese Communist regime commits the most horrific abuses against all people of faith, be they underground Christians, Tibetan Buddhists or Falun Gong practitioners.  The scope of what has been revealed about their systematic plan to eradicate the Uyghur people and culture, amounting to genocide, should cause the civilized world to shun Communist China as a pariah entirely, until such time as there is an entire transformation and replacement of its leadership.

In May of this year, I chaired a hearing of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission entitled “China, Genocide and the Olympics.”

At this hearing, I called attention to the fact that, beginning in 2013, the PRC government laid the groundwork for a mass internment campaign that would ensnare as many as 2 million Uyghurs. What began with surveillance and collection of biometric data—abetted by U.S. corporations such as Thermo Fisher Scientific—had morphed into the forced disappearances of Uyghurs into ‘detention and reeducation’ camps, the forced sterilization of Uyghur women and the forced aborting of their children, and state absorption of Uyghur children into orphanages far from home to be reared with non-Uyghur upbringing while their parents are tortured.

In 2014, Xi Jinping, labeling all Uyghurs who dissented as terrorists, told his officials to “wipe them out completely. Destroy root and branch…”

Documents obtained by the New York Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed just how wicked these plans are, originating with Xi Jinping himself.

The leaked documents show how Xi directed the crackdown, saying that the Communist Party must put the “organs of dictatorship” to work and show “absolutely no mercy” in dealing with Uyghurs and other Muslims. In one speech President Xi said: “The weapons of the people’s democratic dictatorship must be wielded without any hesitation or wavering.”

This is the true face of the regime we are dealing with.

And what is the Administration’s response?

In an absolutely essential article, I commend all of you to read, Josh Rogan in the Washington Post exposed how the Biden Administration and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in particular sought to undermine the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, of which I am the lead Republican cosponsor.

This is the background of the “Diplomatic Boycott” that was announced yesterday—a weak response by a weak Administration, which left American citizens behind and abandoned our allies in Afghanistan, and whose resolve is being tested now the world over.

Finally, I also want to call attention to one of the witnesses who testified at the May hearing on the Genocide Olympics, Rayhan Asat, who told us how her brother, Ekpar Asat, participated in our State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, and apparently for that reason, was arrested upon his return to China.

While we have a moral obligation to speak out on behalf of all victims of Xi Jinping’s repression, our State Department has a particular obligation to demand the release of Ekpar Asat – whom through his participation in the IVLP program the State Department had adopted as one of its own.

I call upon the State Department, from Secretary Antony Blinken on down, to call for his release each and every time they meet with their Chinese counterparts.

In so doing, we also give a name and a face to the countless many who suffer in Xinjiang.

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