Baylor Law Grad Escorts Chinese Political Prisoner To Freedom

News Photo 1055
Mark Lambert poses with two-year-old daughter, Rachel, for family photo taken by his wife, Laura. The Lamberts are expecting a second child this spring.
Feb. 27, 2003

by Alan Hunt

A 1987 Baylor law graduate played a leading role in the December release of a prominent political prisoner from China.

Mark Baxter Lambert, who serves as the human rights officer at the American embassy in Beijing, China, accompanied the dissident, Xu Wenli, and his wife on a Christmas Eve flight from China to the United States.

Xu, a leading figure in the Democracy Wall movement that was launched in China in the late 1970s, spent 16 of the past 21 years in jail because of his persistent campaigning for democratic reform in China. According to the Washington Post, the 59-year-old Xu had long refused to leave China as a condition of going free. "Relatives and diplomats said he changed his position after he was diagnosed in 1999 with hepatitis B, a chronic liver disease, and his health began to deteriorate," the article added.

Lambert, who spent Christmas Day flying back to the embassy in Beijing, says his legal training at Baylor has been "particularly useful working with Chinese lawyers and U.S. law schools and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working on criminal law reform in China and to interpret Chinese criminal procedure rules."

He also helps coordinate U.S.-funded rule of law and democratization programs, and reports to Washington on key issues involving human rights and religious freedom. His other duties include drafting the annual Human Rights Report and International Religious Freedom Report on China, and he works with his embassy colleagues to negotiate and press for prisoner releases.

"We've had several success stories lately -- Tibetans Ngawang Choephel, Jigme Sangpo and Ngawang Sangdrol were all released prior to Xu Wenli's release," he said.

Lambert also works with his colleagues at the State Department in Washington to strengthen the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue.

Lambert joined the State Department in 1990 and worked from 1991-93 in Bogota, Colombia, on counter-narcotics, human rights and anti-kidnapping issues. After a two-year diplomatic stint in Tokyo, he returned to Washington where he worked on military issues involving weapons of mass destruction, which included a trip to Baghdad with the United Nations to monitor Iraq's biological weapons program. Afterwards, he worked in the State Department's Office of Japanese Affairs on environmental, health and science issues with Japan.

"After two years Mandarin Chinese training, I began my tour in Beijing in 2000," Lambert said. "I return to Washington this summer for a year of Thai language training and will be posted to Bangkok in 2004 to be responsible for our bilateral political-military relationship with Thailand."

Lambert is married to another Foreign Service Officer, Laura Stone. "We have a two-year old daughter, Rachel, and are expecting our second child this spring," he said.

A resident of Oregon, Lambert received his undergraduate degree in history and political science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. His father, Malcolm Lambert, received his bachelor of arts degree from Baylor. His sister, Laura Lambert Brodie, also is a Baylor graduate, earning her bachelor of science degree in psychology from the university.

The Lamberts remain in regular communication with their Baylor Law School colleagues, including Mark's 1987 classmate, Katherine Logue, director of career services.

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