- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The daughters of five Chinese political prisoners are planning to use a congressional hearing Thursday to send a message to the communist authorities who have locked up their dads.

“Let our fathers go,” they said in unison, as they prepared to tell their stories to Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and chairman of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights.

Mr. Smith scheduled the hearing to mark the third anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009.

“This hearing will focus on the thousands of men and women in China — including Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uighurs, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, secular human rights leaders, and human rights lawyers — who courageously challenge the status quo at great cost and peril to themselves and their families,” Mr. Smith said.

“This hearing will send a message to the Chinese authorities that the international community will continue to raise these cases and press for their immediate and unconditional release,” the subcommittee chairman said.

The witnesses include:

Lisa Peng, whose father, human rights activist Peng Ming, was kidnapped by Chinese agents in Myanmar in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison a year later.

Grace Ge Geng, the daughter of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been jailed repeatedly for his pro-democracy work.

Ti-Anna Wang, whose father, Wang Bingzhang, is serving a life sentence for organizing political opposition to the Communist Party.

Bridgette Liu, daughter of jailed writer Lui Xianbin, who uses the pen name Wan Xianming. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2011.

Danielle Wang, whose father, Wang Zhiwen, has been in prison since 1999 for his practice of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that the Chinese government condemns as a cult.

The hearing begins at 11 a.m. in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

On Iran, trust but verify

Add the director of the American Task Force on Palestine to the skeptics of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Ghaith al-Omari had one kind thing to say about the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment program in exchange for a partial relaxation of crippling economic sanctions. He called it an example of “power and efficacy” in American diplomacy.

Beyond that, Mr. al-Omari said, the deal raises more questions than it answers.

Writing in the liberal Jewish Daily Forward newspaper, he questioned whether Iran can be trusted to honor its promise to curb its suspected nuclear weapons program.

“So, even this modest exchange of nuclear rollback and sanctions relief still relies on the old formula of ‘trust but verify’ and will be approached skeptically by regional actors,” he wrote Tuesday.

Mr. al-Omari also wondered whether Iran has a hidden agenda to use the deal as a smoke screen to extend its influence in the Middle East.

“Will it rein in its proxies or will it perceive the recent developments as affording wider operating space for its allies such as Hezbollah?” he said, referring to the Lebanese terrorist group siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Raising another question, Mr. al-Omari asked whether “regional powers” might try to derail the deal.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia fear they could be targets of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.