San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation's work leads to congressional call for China to free Texan Mark Swiden

D.J. Eaton
The Dui Hua Foundation works to help political prisoners in China.Photo byJoonyeop BaekonUnsplash

The U.S. House of Representatives has called for China to free imprisoned Texan businessman Mark Swidan. House Resolution 90, which calls for Swidan's immediate release, was approved by a 418-0 vote on April 25. The resolution recalls the work which the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation has done on Swidan’s behalf.

Dui Hua is one of the organizations that "have sought to highlight the injustice and conditions of Swidan’s detention," the resolution says. Dui Hua brought Swidan’s case to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, notes the resolution.

The UN group later found that there was no evidence supporting the charges against Swidan and called for the businessman to be released and compensated, the resolution says. In its 2019 opinion, the group said it had been informed that:

  • At the age of 37, Swidan was arrested without being shown "a warrant or other decision by a public authority" at a hotel in China’s Guangdong Province on November 13, 2012.
  • After being accused of belonging to a criminal drug organization, Swidan was officially arrested on December 21, 2012. He "was taken to Jiangmen municipal detention centre, Guangdong Province, where he remains."
  • "The authorities allegedly tried to make Mr. Swidan sign a confession for possessing drugs, but he refused to do so."
  • The government's "evidence against Mr. Swidan, as contained in the indictment, is weak and circumstantial and based almost entirely on hearsay. No drugs were found on Mr. Swidan, in his room or in his body."
  • "Moreover, according to the records on Mr. Swidan’s passport, he was not in China at the time of the alleged offence."

Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 25, Congressman Michael McCaul said, "Though the court has provided Mr. Swidan with a two-year reprieve on his death sentence, we cannot afford to wait that long to correct the injustice he has suffered."

McCaul, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said China’s treatment of Swidan was "a brazen human rights violation and a disgusting example of CCP's (Chinese Communist Party's) hostage diplomacy."

On its website, the Dui Hua Foundation describes itself as "a nonprofit humanitarian organization that seeks clemency and better treatment for at-risk detainees through the promotion of universally recognized human rights in a well-informed, mutually respectful dialogue with China."

The foundation maintains a Political Prisoner Database with information about 47,857 prisoners (as of March 31, 2023). Those interested in helping the foundation can make a donation or apply to work as a volunteer.

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