Sunday 21 January 2018

Protesters voice anger over human rights issue

Mark Hilliard and Gordon Deegan

THE visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping sparked a number of protests from detractors keen to draw attention to the country's questionable human rights record.

An Irish woman attempted to protest against China's occupation of Tibet during Mr Xi's tour of the Cliffs of Moher but was prevented from doing so by gardai.

Sinead Ni Gairbhith, a resident of Co Clare who has spent time in Tibet, claimed her actions were thwarted by gardai.

She approached the official delegation with a 'Free Tibet' placard but was quickly intercepted.

"If I had pulled out a gun, I would not have had the same reaction from gardai as showing the 'Free Tibet' placard," she said.

"It was like being back in Tibet where no protest is tolerated. This is Co Clare -- where I am from. I was entitled to be at the Cliffs of Moher and make my protest."


Tibet's autonomy as an independent state has been disputed since China sent in troops in 1950.

Ms Ni Gairbhith said she began shouting "free Tibet" and "stop killing innocent Tibetans" after it became clear her demonstration was being brought to an end.

A Garda spokesman said yesterday: "A female attempted to breach a Garda cordon at the Cliffs of Moher this morning, but failed to do so."

Meanwhile, the Irish Anti War Movement also voiced its opposition to the "indulgent manner" in which the government welcomed Mr Xi.

"Mr Xi Jinping is a representative of a dictatorship that denies basic human rights to almost all of its citizens," the group said.

"The Chinese government, which remains a one-party regime, brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and it continually suppresses people with unorthodox religious beliefs."

One of those groups is the Falun Gong, which has been persecuted by Chinese authorities for the last 12 years.

Yesterday, the Irish Falun Dafa Association held a demonstration to draw attention to a crackdown on the religion which claims tens of millions of followers.

Although China has had a reputation for the harsh treatment of religious practitioners, those of the Falun Gong discipline have been treated the worst.

According to supporters of the movement outside of China, thousands have died in custody since its prohibition.

Irish Independent

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