European Parliament backs ALDE call for release of Ai Weiwei

Following Guy Verhofstadt’s intervention earlier this week the European Parliament has taken up the plight of Ai Weiwei, the latest in a string of Chinese dissidents, including Nobel Peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, to be arbitrarily detained without charge or explanation by the authorities for criticism of the regime.

A resolution adopted by the European Parliament today calls expressly for Ai Weiwei’s release and for the EU to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the EU-China human rights dialogue in light of China’s continued violations and lack of progress.

“It is completely unacceptable for China to continue this policy of arbitrary arrest of leading critics whilst purporting to maintain a fruitful political dialogue with western democracies. The EU High Representative and others should make it clear to China that we condemn such repressive tactics and that they greatly undermine China’s international reputation.”

“Ai Weiwei is the latest high profile dissident to speak openly about his wish for more political freedom and as a result has been dragged away by the state security apparatus. Such actions by the authorities only reinforce the criticisms of those who are being locked up. The European Union must make a stand. Enough is enough.”

Edward McMillan-Scott, (LibDem, UK) Vice President of the European Parliament responsible for democracy and human rights said today: “The EU and the international community must put pressure on the Chinese to immediately release Ai Weiwei, to end the disappearances, release political prisoners and begin the political “reforms” hinted at recently by Wen Jiabao. Now, HR/VP Cathy Ashton must condemn the general crack-down on dissent, we have been witnessing ever since the calls for a Jasmine revolution. The EU should abandon the Human Rights Dialogue it has with China and raise the stakes at a political level, because quiet diplomacy will do nothing to dissuade Beijing from cracking down harder then ever before on dissent. Appeasement is simply not an option when faced with the highest-profile victim in the heavy-handed suppression of political dissidents by Chinese officials. The EU must state clearly that police investigating Ai Weiwei ‘for suspected economic crimes in accordance with the law’ is absurd.”

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