Appeal over Chinese prisoner

BRIAN COWEN was under pressure last night to fight for the release from jail of the mother of a Cork student when he meets Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe said he expected the Taoiseach to bring to international prominence the issue of a UCC student’s mother who has been imprisoned in China for possessing DVDs regarding the Christian movement Falun Gong, when he meets with Wen Jiabao.

The Chinese student, Tang Liang, studying Food Science at UCC, has contacted Irish politicians in distress, after his parents were arrested in Henan province during a crackdown on Falun Gong believers in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

They had been distributing a DVD on the religious sect and the attitude of Communist authorities,

Mr Tang’s father, Yu Lin Tang, was later released but his mother, Aiqin Wang, remains in prison.

Mr Tang said the meeting between the Taoiseach and Mr Wen would be a good chance to ask the Chinese government for justice when demanding action in Dublin this week. Mr O’Keeffe insisted it was a matter for the Taoiseach.

“I know that the issue of the UCC student’s mother has been brought to the Taoiseach’s attention, and we expect the matter to manifest itself in the meeting the Taoiseach will hold with the prime minister in Beijing.”

The meeting between the Taoiseach and the Mr Wen takes place in the Great Hall of the People and Mr Cowen will hold a brief news conference afterwards.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement which draws on a series of meditation techniques. China’s authorities have jailed thousands of the cult’s practitioners over the past nine years.

Independent senator David Norris has written to the Taoiseach demanding he raises the matter during his meeting with Mr Wen.

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