Zhao Ming is a postgraduate student in the Computer Science Department at Trinity College Dublin. During his time in Ireland, he became an active member of the Dublin community, teaching in Trinity College, participating in the Dublin University Meditation Society, and leading Falun Gong workshops. After a visit to China over the holidays in the winter of 1999-2000, Ming was prevented from returning to Ireland, and was subsequently detained without trial and tortured repeatedly because his involvement in the banned Falun Gong practice. Immediately after his detention, several local groups, including Amnesty International, the Graduate Students' Union at Trinity College and Falun Gong got involved in advocating for his release. Since that time, these groups have lobbied Trinity College officials, Irish senators, TDs (members of Parliament), government ministers and MEPs [Members of the European parliament] to raise Ming's case with Chinese authorities.
Concerned groups have organised several protests targeting the Chinese Vice-Premier (April 2000), the Chinese Embassy (November 2000), the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (April 2001) and the Chinese Premier (September 2001). Trinity College Students generated 2000 letters in one day on Ming's behalf, which were sent to the Irish Foreign Minister, the Chinese Ambassador, the Chinese Premier and the head of the Labour Camp where Ming was held. Over 50 MEPs wrote letters to the Chinese premier Zhu Rongji to ask for his release on Ming's behalf. In early 2001, Friends of Zhao Ming was formed to coordinate the efforts of the several groups actively seeking his freedom.
Thanks to the cooperation of Irish media services, Ming's plight and efforts to free him are widely known in Ireland. The recent visit to Ireland of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji was dominated by the issue of Zhao Ming's continued detention. The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, the President Mary McAleese, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen, and the Provost of Trinity College, Prof. John Hegarty, all made strong personal overtures seeking Ming's release. In response, Premier Zhu is on record as stating that he would personally examine the case of Zhao Ming upon his return to China.
Irish officials have promised to continue to follow up the matter, but to date there has been no response from China. The SOS Urgent Rescue Zhao Ming Campaign will help to coordinate efforts across Europe for Ming's return to Ireland to continue his education. The network will share information, raise public awareness and lobby governments at national and European levels to campaign for Zhao Ming's release and the cessation of human rights violations in China, including the severe persecution against Falun Gong practitioners.
Although much progress has been made, we must not lose sight of the fact that Ming has been illegally detained for 21 months, and has repeatedly been subjected to torture in a labour camp. We must continue to build on the work that has been done and ensure that Ming is released and returned to his studies in Dublin as quickly as possible.
SOS Urgent Rescue Zhao Ming Campaign Team
(Coordinated by Friends of Zhao Ming and Friends of Falun Gong Europe)
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