Friday 24 January 2020

Activists calling on Taoiseach to raise human rights abuse issues during Chinese visit

Lyndsey Telford

ACTIVISTS have called for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to challenge the Chinese government over human rights abuses during his visit to the country next week.

While Amnesty International lobbied Government representatives behind closed doors today, the Irish Falun Dafa Association staged a protest outside the Dail highlighting the maltreatment of Chinese citizens.

An Amnesty spokeswoman confirmed that members were meeting the Taoiseach's representatives to try to encourage him to prioritise human rights during his trip to the People's Republic.

"Amnesty is urging the Taoiseach to make China's human rights record a central and obvious plank of our dialogue with China," said the spokeswoman.

The Taoiseach will travel to China on Sunday, where he will stay for four days.

Dongxue Dai, spokeswoman for the Irish Falun Dafa Association, said Mr Kenny should prioritise talks on human rights, including the Communist regime's persecution of those practising the spiritual discipline.

"People in China are persecuted for believing in truthfulness and compassion," said Ms Dai.

"I understand the Irish Government doesn't want to upset their business partners, but the Communist regime needs support of the western world too so they can carry on their power."

She said people in China were being detained in prisons, mental asylums and labour camps for displeasing the Government - for example, by following Falun Gong, which is similar to tai chi and yoga.

"People are being tortured to death and I hope the Taoiseach will raise this when he visits China, and help limit the persecution of innocent citizens."

Controversial human rights issues in China include its continued implementation of capital punishment and its strict one-child policy. The Government has also been accused of oppressing freedom of speech, religion and the rights of the press.

Amnesty also warned against Ireland developing a formal working relationship with the world's worst human rights perpetrator.

"We don't deny the need and opportunity for trade but we can't be in a formal relationship with the worst human rights perpetrator in the world and not mention the fact."

Mr Kenny's trip follows the visit of Chinese vice president Xi Jinping, who journeyed to Ireland at the start of March and pledged trade and investment support from China.

A number of Irish companies signed trade deals securing business abroad and Mr Kenny plans to pursue further investment opportunities during his visit to help boost job creation and the economy.

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