The EU should write the issue of human rights violations by China on the agenda of the oncoming EU-China high-level strategic dialogue, expected to take place today in Budapest.
That’s the request by two MEPs of the Alliance of Liberals and democrats in Europe, Guy Verhofstadt (who is also ALDE group leader) and Edward McMillan-Scott.
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” Guy Verhofstadt. “We call on Catherine Ashton – he continued – 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”. The leader of the ALDE group at the EU Parliament ended his statement annoucing his support for Anish Kapoor’s proposal to close all museums for one day as a means to ask for Ai Wei release.
Edward McMillan-Scott, 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”.