The Witherspoon Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Chen Guangcheng as Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution. Mr. Chen is a Chinese civil rights lawyer and activist who has been a persistent voice for freedom, human dignity, and the rule of law in his native country. Working in rural communities in China, where he was known as the “barefoot lawyer,” Chen advocated for the rights of disabled people, and organized class-action litigation against the government’s violent enforcement of its one-child policy. Blind since his childhood, Chen is self-taught in the law. His human rights activism resulted in his imprisonment by the Chinese government for four years, beginning in 2006. After his release he remained under house arrest, until his escape from confinement in 2012, whereupon he came to the United States, where he was a fellow at NYU School of Law in 2012-13.
Mr. Chen is appointed the Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. These three positions are three-year appointments.
“The Institute is proud to collaborate with these great institutions, making common cause, in our joint support of Mr. Chen, on behalf of freedom and democracy for the Chinese people” says Dr. Matthew J. Franck, director of the Simon Center. “Mr. Chen is one of the leading voices for freedom and democracy in China today. Having suffered unjust imprisonment at the hands of his country’s government, he has proven his courage, and his fearless devotion to freedom. Mr. Chen is a truth-teller. It is the Institute’s hope that he be able to continue to tell the world the truth about human rights abuses in China, in total freedom to speak his mind and to shape his own agenda as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Institute.”
Regarding the coming together of these institutions Luis Tellez, President of the Institute, states that “we are so pleased to collaborate with the Catholic University of America and the Lantos Foundation in our joint support of Mr. Chen, on behalf of freedom and democracy for the Chinese people. We look forward to our work together, with him and with them.”
On October 16, 2013, Mr. Chen will give a major address at Princeton University on human rights and the prospects for democratization in China. The Witherspoon Institute is honored to be the sponsor of this lecture. The lecture will take place at 4:30pm on the Princeton campus.
The Witherspoon Institute is an independent research center that works to enhance public understanding of the moral foundations of free and democratic societies. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Institute promotes the application of fundamental principles of republican government and ordered liberty to contemporary problems through a variety of research and educational ventures.
For more information about Mr. Chen’s appointment at the Catholic University of America, visit CUA’s press site. For more information about Mr. Chen’s appointment at the Lantos Foundation, visit the Foundation’s press site.