Cowen urged by UCC student to question his mother’s detention

A CHINESE student, who is currently studying in University College Cork (UCC), has requested Taoiseach, Brian Cowen to speak out against the imprisonment of his mother by the Chinese government on account of her involvement in the Falun Gong movement.

Food Science student, Tang Liang, appealed to the Taoiseach to express his concern about the imprisonment of Aiqin Wang, when he was attending trade talks in Shanghai and Beijing.

Mr Tang’s mother and father were arrested in June in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, as part of the Chinese government’s attempts to curtail the Falun Gong movement, of which they are both members. Mr Wang’s parents were accused of handing out DVDs that conveyed anti-Communist messages. Tang Liang’s father, Yu Lin Tang,was released shortly after his incarceration, but his wife remains in custody.

Mr Tang presented his plea whilst accompanied by Ming Zhao, a Chinese native, who was previously jailed for two years for being a member of the Falun Gong movement. He was arrested whilst enrolled as a computer science student in Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Ming Zhao was released after former-Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, appealed to the Chinese government. He then returned to Ireland as a refugee.

Mr Ming emphasised the importance of Cowen’s intervention in the case of Aiqin Wang, as well as the broader issue of human rights violations in China, saying; “it is important that international voices speak out”.

The Irish Falun Dafa Association, a group that represents the estimated 100 Falun Gong practitioners who reside in Ireland, supported the requests of Messrs Ming and Tang. Mr Ming stated that the group wanted Mr Cowen to bring public attention to the issue of the prisons harvesting the organs of Falun Gong prisoners in China, as well as other serious breaches of human rights.

Mr Tang’s appeal to the Taoiseach was supported by notable political figures, such as senators David Norris and Joe O’Toole.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that is based on a range of meditation and relaxation techniques. The Chinese government denounced the group as being a cult, and in the past nine years, thousands of members of the movement have been jailed.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen returned from the Chinese trade talks on the 26th October and made no public indication that he had expressed his concerns to the Chinese government about the imprisonment of Aiqin Wang.