Human rights campaigner describes her emotional meeting with blind activist, Chen Guangcheng in New York

Source:  www.assist-ministries.com

Date:  2012-06-19

She had campaigned for his freedom for many years

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

NEW YORK, NY (ANS) -- Reggie Littlejohn, the President of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, a non-partisan, international coalition to oppose forced abortion and human trafficking in China, has finally met her hero, Chen Guangcheng.

Chen Guangcheng with his family

Littlejohn, who has campaigned for Chen's freedom for many years, said in a message to her supporters, "I'm writing to tell you that I had the inexpressible joy of meeting with blind activist Chen Guangcheng in New York on Saturday.

"Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing -- herself a hero -- and a translator were at the meeting as well. Chen wanted to thank me for all my years of work on his behalf. He also wanted me to thank you, WRWF's friends and supporters. At his request, I am writing to express his deep gratitude for all you have done for him. Your efforts had a real impact on raising the visibility of his case internationally and advocating persuasively for his freedom."

She went on to say, "This was the most emotional meeting I've had in my life. I can't express how it felt being so close to Chen and Yuan, after years of advocating tirelessly for their release, feeling anguish every time I received fresh word of torture, malnutrition, illness and lack of medical treatment, while he and his family languished, sometimes near death, on the other side of the earth.

"I never thought I would actually meet them. The cumulative strain of every sleepless night, every jetlagged day, all the weeks, months and years on the road away from home raising the visibility of their case melted away when I sat next to Chen and Yuan, free at last in New York City.

"It was an especially powerful moment when I showed Chen and Yuan the Chinese version of the 'Free Chen' video that was so important in inspiring thousands to take action on their behalf all over the world. We were all misty-eyed watching it. Again, I never thought I'd be sitting in Greenwich Village with them, showing them this video. I almost had to pinch myself to believe this was really happening. Here's a link to the video, in case you haven't seen it yet." (www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/?nav=free-chen-guangcheng)

Littlejohn continued, "I also showed Chen and Yuan the 500 sunglasses portraits sent in from all over the world, and the 11,000 + signatures on the Free Chen petition. I told them about releasing The Chen Report in Chinese and English late last year, so that everyone would know the cases Chen was working on when he was detained in 2006."

Here are the links:
Sunglasses Campaign: http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=chen-sunglasses
Petition: http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=chen-guangcheng-backup#pet

She said that Chen thanked each and every person who sent in a portrait or signed the petition, and everyone who donated to help finance these efforts.

"You played a part in Chen's freedom!" said Littlejohn.

Reggie Littlejohn testifies at an emergency Congressional Hearing on May 3, 2012
(Photo: Voice of America)

She added, "For my part, since 2008 I have testified about Chen five times at the U.S. Congress, twice at the British Parliament, and once at the Irish and British Parliaments. I have briefed officials at the White House, State Department and Vatican, and have spoken at the Harvard and Stanford Law Schools.

"I have been interviewed on countless television and radio shows, including CNN, the BBC and Voice of America (broadcast throughout China), and have written dozens of blog posts and press releases. I also turned my two websites into 'Free Chen' websites, one in English and one in Chinese. I did this not expecting Chen to be freed - this seemed an impossible dream - but merely because I felt compelled to do it.

"All this effort seemed small when compared with the overwhelming reality that Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing themselves were sitting next to me on a couch in New York City.

"Chen made one request of me. He wants me to learn Chinese so that we can communicate unimpeded. I said I didn't know if I could learn Chinese -- it's such a hard language, with its difficult tones. He said, 'If I can escape from Donshigu Village, you can learn Mandarin.' He's got a point, and I promised him I would learn it. He told me to tell my friends that I'm learning Mandarin so that you can hold me accountable. Learning Mandarin is a big commitment, but I've already begun."

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