Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist, officially announced yesterday at a press conference that he will serve as distinguished visiting fellow of The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.
In a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Chen, accompanied by CUA President John Garvey, said through an interpreter that through this partnership he will be able to speak out against China’s brutal violations of human rights and the threat they pose, not only to the Chinese people but to humanity.
“From today forward, no matter what difficulties we encounter, we will stick together and work closely for all mankind,” said Chen. “We will make concerted efforts to defend the freedom of the Chinese people and move forward courageously to defend human dignity and other universal values.”
Chen’s work in exposing the atrocities of forced abortions and sterilizations in China led to four years in prison, followed by years of house arrest. Chen escaped last year to the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and subsequently to the United States.
President Garvey said Chen’s human rights advocacy fits in very well with the mission of The Catholic University of America.
“As a Catholic institution, we greatly admire Mr. Chen’s bravery in defending basic human rights in China,” said Garvey, according to his published remarks on CUA’s website. “We consider his work as an advocate consonant with the academic mission of a Catholic university. By virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ, we are dedicated to supporting the international struggle for the recognition of human dignity and the protection of basic human rights.”
Garvey also noted that Chen will serve as a role model for students at CUA.
“We aspire to provide moral exemplars in our teachers and scholars. Mr. Chen’s heroic moral witness provides a model for the kind of courageous commitment to protecting human dignity and advancing human rights that we hope for in our students,” he said. “His fortitude and perseverance are virtues we hope our students will imitate.”
Chen will also be affiliated with The Witherspoon Institute and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
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