US Department of State ‘concerned’ over attack reports

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, May 11, 2013 - Page 3

The US Department of State is “very concerned” about reports that attacks on the family of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) could be linked to his plans to visit Taiwan.

“We urge Chinese authorities to stop any harassment of the family and to treat family members fairly and with dignity,” US Department of State spokesman Patrick Ventrell said on Thursday.

Chen recently said that he and his family planned to visit Taiwan next month to meet with the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and to learn about the nation’s judicial reforms.

Asked if the US had any comment on reports that Chen’s brother, Chen Guangfu (陳光福), had been attacked and beaten, Ventrell said the US was aware of the reports.

Ventrell was asked if the attacks could be linked to Chen Guangcheng’s plans to visit Taiwan.

“I saw those news reports about the linkage, but I don’t have information one way or another,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the treatment of his family members and we will consistently continue to raise them with the Chinese government,” he said.

Human rights organizations in the US have expressed concern that Chen Guangcheng’s family members are being harassed a as a way of pressuring him to be silent.

They also believe Chen Guangfu’s beating could be a tactic designed to stop Chen Guangcheng from visiting Taiwan.

“We are going to continue to make our position very clear on this issue,” Ventrell said.

He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry had written to Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) about the issue.

“We remain deeply concerned by reports that family members of Chen Guangcheng continue to be harassed, and by reports that Chen Guangfu was recently attacked and beaten,” Ventrell said.