Epoch Times New York Staff

Nov 11, 2006

European Parliament VP Edward McMillan-Scott (L) asks U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (back to camera) to seek the release of two Chinese prisoners of conscience. (The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK— Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament, handed a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan last Friday asking for his help in rescuing imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Falun Gong practitioner Cao Dong.

In his letter, McMillan-Scott requested the secretary general's "personal intervention with the Chinese authorities to call for the release of both of these men."

McMillan-Scott traveled to China as a rapporteur for the EU's new Democracy and Human Rights Instrument in May 2006. While in China, he held a secret meeting with two Falun Gong practitioners, including Cao Dong, in a Beijing hotel room. His planned meeting with Gao Zhisheng, however, was cancelled out of concern for Gao's safety. They later spoke at length in a phone conversation on June 4.

Both Gao and Cao were arrested after their contact with McMillan-Scott.

Self-taught lawyer Gao Zhisheng has gained an international reputation for his courageous defense of house-church Christians, victims of forced evictions, and Falun Gong practitioners. Gao has repeatedly called upon the Chinese communist regime to change its policies regarding religious tolerance, which is guaranteed in the Chinese constitution but, in practice, does not exist in China.

Gao was arrested on August 15, 2006, after several months of de facto house arrest; he was officially charged with subversion on October 15. No supporting evidence has been presented.

Falun Gong practitioner Cao Dong, was arrested on May 26, after meeting with McMillan-Scott. During the meeting, Cao confirmed his knowledge about the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners by the communist regime, stating that he had seen the cadaver of a friend and fellow Falun Gong practitioner after his organs had been removed.

Cao was charged on September 29 with "producing Falun Gong materials," and is being held at the Public Security Bureau detention center in Gansu Province.

McMillan-Scott has said that the arrests of Gao and Cao are representative of the imprisonment and torture of hundreds of thousands in China due to their beliefs, prisoners whose human rights are ignored.

In New York as part of a delegation from the European Parliament to meet with U.N. leaders, McMillan-Scott raised the issue of human rights in China during his meeting with the secretary general.

He believes that the EU and the United Nations should "make common cause" in their approach to the Chinese regime, and says that by calling China a "complex environment," the United Nations merely "disguises the most massive and longstanding infringement of human rights in modern times."

During a forum on China later on Friday, McMillan-Scott said that the world must stand up for the rights and freedoms that the United Nations is supposed to represent, which is why he hopes that the secretary general can take up Cao and Gao's cases. "I believe that the prestige and moral authority of the United Nations is quite rightly available for use in cases like this, where a manifestly political arrest has taken place."