Shaker Heights teen urges father's release from Chinese prison

CLEVELAND - A northeast Ohio teen whose father is imprisoned in China wants President Barack Obama and members of Congress to seek his release.

Lisa Peng, 16, of the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, traveled to Washington this past week to discuss her father's case with members of Congress. Peng also participated in a news conference organized by about 30 human rights groups to urge the president to seek the release of her father and others they say are political prisoners, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported..

Peng says she hasn't seen her father since her seventh birthday party in 2003, but is optimistic.

"I feel nothing but hopeful at this point," she said. Chinese President Xi Jinping.

She had urged the president at his meetings Friday and Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping to seek the release of her father and 15 other people the human rights coalition says are political prisoners in Chinese prisons. Senior White House officials had previously said that Obama's discussions with Xi Jinping would include human rights issues as well as economic and military security matters.

A message was left at the White House media affairs office Saturday. There was no answer to calls Saturday to the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Peng says her father, Peng Ming, now 56, was captured in Burma by Chinese agents and sent to prisons where he was beaten and denied medical treatment for a heart attack and kidney stones.

"My father is very hopeful despite almost a decade without medical care," said the high school student who says she communicates with her father in Xian Ning Prison through letters relayed by an uncle in China.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is chairman of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China and supported Peng's calls for her father's release in a June 7 letter to the president. He wrote in the letter that the human rights activist's imprisonment "is a travesty of justice."

"Mr. Peng is a peaceful advocate for the environment, human rights and democracy" Brown wrote.

Lisa Peng said her father had visited Thailand to set up a "safe haven" for persecuted Chinese dissidents.  

Other Chinese prisoners whose cases are being highlighted by the human rights group coalition include jailed Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo and attorney Gao Zhisheng.

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