REUTERS: Irish PM Raises Human Rights with Chinese Premier

By Kevin Smith
September 3, 2001

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern raised human rights issues on Monday with Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, including the case of a Chinese student at a Dublin college detained in China for links to the Falun Gong movement.

Describing his talks with Zhu, the most senior Chinese official to visit Ireland, as "frank and friendly," Ahern said they discussed China's treatment of Falun Gong members and Beijing's dealings with Tibet.

Ahern said he highlighted the case of Zhao Ming, a computer student at Trinity College in Dublin who human rights groups say has been tortured and detained without trial in a labor camp since late last year for Falun Gong-related activities.

The case has been the subject of high-profile media attention in Ireland.

"He (Zhu) gave his commitment to the Irish people that he would raise the issue of Zhao Ming with the judicial authorities, and I thank him for that," Ahern told reporters.

For his part, Zhu rejected criticism of treatment of the Falun Gong, which China banned in 1999. [...]

Falun Gong leaders say more than 50,000 practitioners in China have been sent to prisons, labor camps and mental hospitals since China banned the group in 1999.

Human rights groups estimate that more than 200 adherents of the movement [...], have died from torture during detention.

Ahern and Zhu also held extensive talks about trade opportunities between their two countries and agreed they had huge potential, particularly high-tech exports on the Irish side. [...]

Zhu is due to leave the Irish republic for Belgium on Wednesday as part of a tour which also takes in Moscow and Kazakhstan.

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