American Congressmen working to free Chinese immigrant prisoners
By Roy Maynard
Growing congressional concern over the fate of Chinese refugees could unlock the prison doors that confine passengers from the immigrant-smuggling ship Golden Venture. Of the original 282 Chinese who survived when the ship went aground off Long Island two years ago, more than 180 are still in prisons around the United States. Others have been either released or deported – the most recent group was sent back to China late last month, despite what experts call well-founded fear of persecution and death.
But as more and more members of Congress learn the story of the Golden Venture refugees who claim to be fleeing China’s forced-abortion and sterilization policies, more and more the Clinton administration is clamming up.
It would seem that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is guarding the wrong borders, according to Joan Blinn, a pro-life activist who has taken interest in the Golden Venture case. “They’re guarding their own territory and their own sovereignty, at the expense of human rights. There are people who have offered to provide homes for every Chinese person in jail now but the INS would rather keep them locked up, away from the media and away from visitors.”
Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) sent a scalding letter to both the Justice Department and the State Department earlier this month; in it they ask for information that could prove Clinton administration bungling has led to refugees being sent back to face gulag-style re-education camps and slave-labor political prisons.
“There is evidence, in the form of repeated statements by Chinese officials, that the Chinese government regards resistance to its population control policies as a form of political opposition” worthy of severe punishment, the letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Attorney General Janet Reno says. “Do the Departments of State and Justice disagree with this assessment? Is a forced abortion or sterilization just a normal law-enforcement technique that we should not regtard any differently than other actions of sovereign nations?”
Rep. Smith chairs the House committee that oversees human rights issues. “These are victims of forced abortion and forced sterilizations. We’re trying to get the facts, but I consider this one of the most important human rights issues in the world today, and I think I can promise that Congress will be considering the issue very carefully.”
Access to the refugees has been rare; one member of the press who managed to get in to speak to women in the Mississippi prison reported that “Dottie” (a name given to her by jailers) described her ordeal at the hands of a government determined to enforce its one-child policy. Dottie “gasped between tears as she described bleeding and cramps she suffered for four years after Chinese doctors forced in an intrauterine device following the birth of her second child,” writes Nancie Katz in the Houston Chronicle. “When she paid a private physician $200 to remove it, word got out. The police came to sterilize her.” Other women have described the forced abortion of full-term babies, while men describe their homes being leveled because they dared to have a second child.
Reprinted with permission from World © 1995. To order World, call 1-800-951-NEWS.