Geng He is the wife of the imprisoned Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Chen Guangcheng is a rights lawyer and former Chinese prisoner of conscience.
Living in the United States, we now enjoy the right to speak freely. We are in Washington this week exercising that right by telling our stories — the stories of rights lawyers and their families who so often face persecution in the People’s Republic of China — to anyone who will listen. But we know that our voices alone will not be enough. As the Chinese government continues to punish those inside the country who stand up for the rights of others, we need the United States and President Obama to stand with us and demand that this repression end.
Our stories are flip sides of the same coin. Geng He sought asylum in the United States after Chinese authorities detained and brutally tortured her husband, the rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Chen Guangcheng, a legal activist, was a prisoner of conscience for many years before escaping house arrest last spring. Now in America, he is studying at New York University and advocating on behalf of his relatives, who continue to endure persecution in China because of his activism.