Amnesty International urges Irish government to raise Zhao Ming's case with Chinese Premier

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News Release: Amnesty Asks Taoiseach and Tánaiste to Help Save Chinese Prisoners [Excerpt]

For immediate release: Contact: Brian Dooley or Denise Clare @ 6776361

Amnesty International's Irish Section has sent the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste a list of prisoners it wants them to raise in meetings with Chinese Premier Mr Zhu Rongji next week.

"Because of the scale of the human rights problem in China I have selected a number of individual cases which I would urge you to raise with Mr Zhu Rongji and his officials," said Amnesty Director Seán Love in a letter to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste this week. "These cases are just a handful of the thousands of Chinese prisoners who are today being tortured, jailed for their peaceful beliefs, or awaiting execution," he said.

China says its human rights focus is on feeding its people. This is a laudable objective, but it doesn't give the Beijing government licence to oppress, torture and execute its citizens, said Amnesty. "What human rights conditions does the Irish government incorporate into trade negotiations with the Chinese government?" he asked.

The specific cases Amnesty has asked the government to raise are:
 Zhao Ming: He has been imprisoned without trial in a series of labour camps since January 2000, when he returned to China on Christmas holidays from Trinity College, Dublin. His "crime" is his failure to renounce his Falun Gong religious beliefs. He has been tortured physically and mentally. On one occasion he was reportedly handcuffed to a chair and denied sleep for five days, it is said that he has been forced to stand or kneel without rest for lengthy periods of time. Other prisoners have been encouraged to torture him.

Since May of this year nothing has been heard of him. We do not know if he is alive or dead.

Amnesty International believes that Zhao Ming is being detained solely because of his religious beliefs and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. [...]

Amnesty has also asked the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to raise the issue of the death penalty with the Chinese premier. More people were executed in China in the last few months than in the rest of the world put together in the last three years. At least 1,781 people have been executed although the true figure is very much higher. Among the crimes for which they have been executed are tax fraud, embezzlement and stealing petrol. Only a fraction of death sentences and executions carried out in China are publicly reported.

"Most executions take place after sentencing rallies in front of massive crowds in sports stadiums -- ironic in view of China hosting the 2008 Olympic Games - and public squares. Prisoners are also paraded through the streets past thousands of people on the way to execution by firing squad in nearby fields or courtyards," said Seán Love.
For further information visit Photos of the individuals are available on our website.

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