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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hague must end his silence on China

Gao Zhisheng, jailed human right lawyer in China aka 'Conscience of China'

By Edward McMillan-Scott Edward McMillan-Scott (Yorkshire & The Humber) is a vice-president of the European Parliament.

Politics.co.uk - Ai Weiwei is the only living Chinese citizen able to call the Beijing regime "disgusting". He is uncompromising. In an impromptu interview with me at the preview, he says: "China cannot continue to go the same way; the game is over."

Ai Weiwei's work amplifies in art the massive political message delivered by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee on October 8th. Those, like myself, who have campaigned for years for reform in China despair at the tolerance of the world community at the abounding evidence that since 1949 until today, the Beijing regime is the most tyrannous, brutal and paranoid in world history.

...despite continuing repression in China, uncontrolled use of the death penalty, between seven and eight million prisoners currently suffering varying forms of inhuman and degrading treatment and torture for their religious or political views and a complete absence of basic human rights.

In 2008, on the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing, when the regime manifestly failed to honour its reform pledges of 2002, the committee was widely expected to award the prize to Mr Gao Zhisheng. Gao is a Christian human rights lawyer, whose open letters to the regime demanding reform led to his imprisonment.

Gao's research into the systematic persecution of religious groups and especially the popular Buddha-school Falun Gong, were too much for the regime. When he sent open letters through myself to the European Parliament and then to the US Congress in September 2007 urging a political boycott of the Olympics, he was tortured severely to the point where he twice tried to commit suicide.

Gao, Like his friend the imprisoned environmentalist Mr Hu Jia, who won the European Parliament's 2008 Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression, were among the Chinese contacts I made during a May 2006 visit to Beijing. All were then arrested, imprisoned and in some cases tortured.

To his credit, David Miliband made a highly-publicised criticism of Gao's continued detention to the Beijing regime during a visit to China in 2009. Gao has disappeared although his wife and children have escaped from house arrest to the United States. In his interview with me, Ai Weiwei says quite simply that such a disappearance in a civilized country would be "impossible".

Now is the proper time for Europe to mount a concerted effort for reform in China. As Ai Weiwei told me, all generations in China today want change. Read more...

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