CECC promotes prisoners of conscience with Free China's Heroes campaign

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

China Aid
By Brynne Lawrence and Ava Collins

(Washington, D.C.—Sept. 15, 2015) The United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) launched the “Free China’s Heroes” initiative, a social media campaign with the objective of forcing human rights reform onto the agenda for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to the U.S.

In order to publicize China’s human rights abuses, the CECC has selected the cases of 20 prominent, imprisoned political activists, lawyers and religious leaders to promote under the social media handle #FreeChinasHeroes. The campaign will feature two prisoners per day until Xi’s arrival.

According to CECC chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), human rights reform in China should be a concern in U.S.-China relations because, “The hard won truth of history is that stability and prosperity can only be maintained through the advance of liberty, transparency, and the protection of fundamental human rights. China’s attention
to this truth is a critical interest of U.S. foreign policy and stronger U.S.-China relations.”

The CECC has documented the current Chinese government’s efforts to suppress opposition to the Communist party and quiet activists and advocates who work on behalf of the oppressed and will release this information in its Annual Report in October.

The current human rights situation in China reveals a more widespread crackdown than any previous period since the CECC’s Annual Reports started in 2002. The CECC hopes that by publicizing the cases of these political prisoners, human rights discussions will become a focus during Xi’s visit.

CECC cochair, Senator Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), reinforced that the Obama administration needs to make human rights discussion a priority. “As the Obama White House prepares to roll out the red carpet for President Xi, we must not forget the men, women, and juveniles who languish unjustly in dark prison cells, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for daring to do their job. These cases are not mere statistics, rather they are professors and pastors, writers, and lawyers whose ‘offenses’ are varied but whose plight is shared. While recognizing the broad scope of U.S-China bilateral relations, it is simply unconscionable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights. We have an obligation to speak truth to power and demand their immediate and unconditional release.”

The CECC’s list of 20 prisoners includes six members of the China 18 campaign, which consists of 18 prisoners of conscience who represent the thousands of others like them. Those six members include Liu Xiaobo, Zhu Yufu, Gao Yu, Gulmira Imin, Liu Ping and Guo Feixiong. In addition to the six China 18 members are two lawyers that were members of past delegations facilitated by China Aid.

The daily highlighted prisoners can be viewed on the CECC’s website, the CECC’s Twitter feed and Rubio’s Twitter feed. Today’s highlighted prisoners are Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org