Ban on writer’s visit raises more fears of crackdown in China – WA Senator
Media Release: Senator Scott Ludlam, Monday May 23rd, 2011
Beijing’s ban on writer Liao Yiwu’s planned visit to the Australia deepens fears of a growing crackdownon dissent in China, the Australian Greens said today.
The Greens communications spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said Mr Liao was scheduled to speak at the Sydney Writer’s Festival on May 20th and May 21st but was denied permission to leave China prior to the event.
“Mr Liao is a leading social commentator and has written extensively on poverty and homelessness in China. The ban on his visit to Sydney is part of a concerted effort by the Beijing administration to suppress dissent in light of the protests sweeping the Middle East,” said Senator Ludlam.
According to reports, a number of writers, journalists and social commentators have been harassed, arrested and otherwise intimidated by the Chinese authorities in recent months.
“Reports indicate that several prominent intellectuals have disappeared or been placed under house arrest recently in China. Mr Liao was jailed for four years after writing a poem condemning the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and the repression is now reaching proportions not seen since the lead up to that brutal crackdown,” said Senator Ludlam.
“The treatment of Mr Liao is not isolated; human rights advocate Gao Zhisheng was arrested in February 2009 and re-emerged in late March 2010, told journalists he had endured torture at the hands of police and was arrested and ‘disappeared’ again early the next month. He has not been seen since. Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist Liu Xiaobo has been in custody since June 2009 on trumped-up subversion charges and was sentenced to eleven years jail in December 2009.
“Australian officials must raise their human rights concerns with the Chinese government at every opportunity and in the strongest possible terms,” said Senator Ludlam. “The Chinese government must be reminded that the world is watching.”
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302