Sun, Jun 17, 2018 - Page 3 News List

EU urged to confront China at summit

OPEN LETTER:‘The EU’s broad and principled commitment to promoting human rights has not been matched in China with a willingness to act,’ the letter said

By Peng Wan-hsin  /  Staff reporter

Lee Ching-yu speaks at a news conference in Taipei on March 28 after receiving permission to visit her husband, Lee Ming-che, for the first time since his detention in China.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Ahead of next month’s EU-China summit, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights on Wednesday joined US government-funded non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch and several other international advocacy groups in issuing an open letter to EU officials to raise public awareness about the “growing human rights crisis” in China.

The coalition of groups urged the EU to fulfill its pledge to promote human rights globally by repeatedly calling for the release of political prisoners detained by the Chinese government, including poet Liu Xia (劉霞), the widow of journalist Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), and Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲).

The letter is addressed to European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of the July 12 to 13 summit, Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu E-ling (邱伊翎) said yesterday.

Just weeks after last year’s summit, Chinese authorities ignored an international outcry, including pressure from several EU member states, and denied the wish of late 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to leave China to seek medical treatment for liver cancer.

Liu died in July last year in Shenyang, China.

The coalition’s letter also mentioned two high-profile human rights violations committed by China this year: the forced disappearance of Swedish citizen and dissident publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海), despite Gui traveling with Swedish diplomats, and attempts by Chinese authorities in April to block Dolkun Isa, an ethnic Uighur activist, from attending a UN forum in New York.

“However, at the EU-China Strategic Dialogue on June 1, 2018, in Brussels, the EU once again did not publicly challenge China over any human rights violations, including those committed against [its] member state citizens, publicly mention a single human rights defender or insist on the immediate and unconditional release of those wrongly imprisoned,” the letter read.

“The EU’s broad and principled commitment to promoting human rights has not been matched in China with a willingness to act or a determination to at least achieve releases,” it added. “Issuing statements calling for the release of arbitrarily held lawyers and activists is welcome, but not enough — especially without consequences for a failure to release people.”

The letter also called on the EU to pressure China for the release of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋), Uighur academic Ilham Tohti, Tibetan-language education advocate Tashi Wangchuk and other people China has charged with crimes not recognized elsewhere in the international community, or detained for simply taking steps toward protecting human rights.

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