Chinese democracy advocate Wang Bingzhang has
been jailed since 2002. Wednesday - on the 60th anniversary of the United
Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights - an American lawmaker held a
news conference to talk about the conditions of his imprisonment and urge China
to let him go.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House of Representatives'
Foreign Affairs Committee, had strong words to describe the capture of Wang
Bingzhang, a Chinese-born medical doctor who helped found the Chinese overseas
democracy movement in North America.
"Dr. Wang's abduction by Chinese security
agents, while on a visit to Vietnam, in June, 2002, and the subsequent smuggling
of him across the Vietnamese frontier into China was a cynical, calculated
action of a regime that's desperate to silence a voice of conscience," she
Wang's 19-year-old daughter - Ti-Anna, who works for Initiatives
for China, a Washington-based pro-democracy group - spoke about her recent visit
with her father. She says the Chinese government periodically alerts her family
that they will be allowed a prison visit, often with very little advance notice.
She says her father is imprisoned in a remote facility and that their visits are
heavily monitored. She grew emotional when she spoke of his condition.
"I was very nervous
about seeing my father this time. It had been over a year since my last visit
and my family had lost contact with him for two months without any clear
explanation why. . . . I was relieved when I was finally able to see him and he
was cheerful enough to smile," she said.
Wang says six years in
solitary confinement have been hard on her father. She says he shows signs of
depression: not looking her in the eye, repeating sentences several times. She
is calling on the present and future U.S. presidents, George Bush and Barack
Obama, to ask China to release her father on medical and humanitarian grounds.
And, she is asking lawmakers for honorary American citizenship for her father,
who is a permanent U.S. resident - in recognition of his commitment to democracy
and as a statement of the United States' commitment to human rights.