May 12, 2011

Tibet: Liberals Call on Ashton to Pressure Chinese Authorities

ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt and UK Liberal Democrat Edward McMillan-Scott today called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to address ongoing violations of human rights in China such as the ongoing detention of Ai Weiwei

Below is an article published by ALDE: 

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE group leader) and Edward McMillan-Scott (Lib Dem, UK) today called on Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, to address ongoing violations of human rights in China - particularly the treatment of political dissidents - when she meets with China's foreign policy advisor, Dai Bingguo, at the EU-China high-level strategic dialogue in Budapest today [Thursday 12 May].

The European Parliament adopted a resolution last month expressly calling for the release of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities in April. However, unconfirmed reports claim that Ai Weiwei has confessed to tax evasion after several days of being forced to watch the taped torture of Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who 'disappeared' more than a year ago and for whose release Ai Weiwei had campaigned. 

"The European Union must make a stand. We call on Catherine Ashton to address these issues head on in her talks with Dai Bingguo. Ai Weiwei is not just a well known Chinese artist, he is the symbol of the creative, independent thinking side of China, a part that we unfortunately don't see enough. His detention is unacceptable. Therefore we support Anish Kapoor who dedicated his newest work to Ai Weiwei and his idea to close all museums for one day," said Verhofstadt. 

Edward McMillan-Scott, (LibDem, UK) Vice President of the European Parliament responsible for democracy and human rights said: "At last the international community has found an issue which forces it to focus on the reality of China today. 

"I found in Ai Weiwei not just an artist but a courageous reformist who will be part of the future of China. 

"I am disturbed by reports that he is being tortured by being forced to watch the torture of Gao Zhisheng whose imprisonment Ai Weiwei described as 'Impossible in a civilised society and [while] there's a whole world that's watching' when I met him last October."