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 said.
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.