In what can only be described as a gesture of contempt for those shamelessly touting for their affection, the Chines police yesterday detained two human rights activists who were on their way to the EU embassy in Beijing for a scheduled meeting with EU ambassador Jorge Toledo Albinana. Politico has reported that the EU issued a formal protest over the detention of lawyers Yu Wensheng and Xu Yan.
Yu was first detained in 2014 for having supported the democracy movement in Hong Kong. His legal license was withdrawn in 2017 and he was arrested in 2018 after he issued an open letter calling for free elections and questioning the Communist Party’s denial of basic democratic rights.
Yu was sentenced to a four years from the date of his arrest following a secret trial in 2020 for “inciting subversion of state power.”. An appeal was rejected on the basis that he had “attempted to subvert state power by trying to overthrow the country’s socialist regime.”
He was released in March 2022 and claimed to have been tortured while in custody in Xuzhou detent centre. He served his full sentence during which his health deteriorated but he and Xu Yan have continued with their activity. It is likely that it were not for the international attention on the basis of their previous public profile that their fate would have been far worse, and most likely unknown. There are many millions of Chinese people who are not so fortunate.
Given that two of our own MEPs, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, are currently in China and on the off chance that they or somebody they know might read a report of the arrests, perhaps they might make some sort of protest to their hosts. Given that they make such a virtue of “punching up” on the behalf of the oppressed, and so on.
The same suggestion of course might be made to the entrepreneurs and their chums of the Ireland China Institute, to the associates of the Confucius Institutes in our universities, and to those politicians who are on first name terms with the representatives of the Communist Party of China in both parts of Ireland.