(CNSNews.com) – The star of the blockbuster film “Dark Knight,” Christian Bale, presented an award to Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist who spent years under house arrest for his efforts to fight government oppression, including forced abortions and sterilization.
Bale met Guangcheng for the first time before he presented him with the award at the annual gala on Thursday in New York City for Human Rights First, a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization, according to its website.
“He [Chen] had exposed a program of forced abortion and sterilization in Shandong,” Bale said. “A program of forced abortion means that women are being dragged from their homes against their will.
“They are being forced to have abortions, sometimes late-term -- imagine that -- with some women reportedly dying in the process,” Bale said. “Now this is true horror.
“And in this insane world, this man, Chen, who was helping these women -- who was living by some of the most simple, brave and universally admired values – values that we teach our children every day, and helping our fellow man – for this, this man was imprisoned and beaten for over four years,” Bale said.
“Chen Guangcheng is a towering champion of human rights, who with incomparable courage, stood alone against the Chinese totalitarian regime,” Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, which helped lead the effort to free Guangcheng and bring him to the United States in May, said of the honor. “The women of China and the world will long remember his bravery on their behalf.
“At the same time,” Littlejohn added, “Christian Bale has become a human rights champion in his own right.
“He risked his safety to visit Chen last December,” Littlejohn said. “His attack by Chinese thugs brought visibility to Chen’s case.”
In December 2011, while Chen was still in China under house arrest, Bale attempted to visit Chen but was roughed up by thugs, who prevented him from visiting Chen’s village. Bale said at that time, “What I really wanted to do was shake the man’s hand and say ‘thank you,’ and tell him what an inspiration he is.”
In its 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights, the U.S. State Department calls the Chinese one-child policy “coercive.”
“A coercive birth limitation policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion or forced sterilization; trafficking in persons; prohibitions on independent unions and a lack of protection for workers’ right to strike; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor,” the report states.
According to a 2009 Chinese government report, 13 million abortions are performed in that country each year. The actual number of abortions performed each year could actually be much higher, according to a “China Daily” article about the government’s statistics published that same year.