Target: Margot Wallström, Sweden Minister of Foreign Affairs
Goal: Increase efforts to release a bookseller who was allegedly abducted.
Five booksellers were allegedly abducted by Chinese officials for publishing and distributing criticism and propaganda against the country in Hong Kong. While four of the men were released, one remains incarcerated, and little about his well-being or fate has been disclosed to the public. This final prisoner is a citizen of Sweden, and it is speculated that his country has not done more to secure his safety because he is not native-born.
Gui Minhai is a co-owner of a company that publishes gossip about China and its government. The books are popular amongst Chinese tourists in Hong Kong, and officials believe they may have been shipped into China illegally. Gui was on a bookselling trip when he was reportedly abducted in Thailand by the Chinese government. For four months, no one knew where he was until he appeared on a Chinese TV station giving a confession and explanation for his whereabouts. In the tape, he says he took himself to China in order to deal with a drunk driving incident he had been involved in and that he did not want help from the Swedish government.
Suspicions that this story was all a hoax were confirmed when one of the booksellers who was released talked about his own confession. Lam Wing-kei claimed he was forced to read from a scripted confession and that none of it was true, and he believes the same was done to the man still in prison. Additional evidence that Gui did not travel on his own is found in the fact that his travel papers were left in Thailand. Also, China has not produced a physical record of Gui being involved with a drunk driving incident.
Gui has hardly been allowed to see anyone, including his family. Swedish officials have met with him twice but still have no clues as to what China plans to do. The Scandinavian country seems to be using quiet diplomacy to deal with this crisis, but it is apparent more needs to be done. This man’s arrest aligns with the trend under Xi Jinping’s ruling, which targets critics and human rights activists with no regard for international laws or borders. Without meaningful consequences, such as political ramifications, there is no motivation for China to confess its wrongdoings.
The European Parliament regularly meets to discuss world issues, and this is one that needs to be dealt with immediately. It is up to the government of Sweden to enact the measures that need to be taken by the subcommittee on Human Rights and Delegation to China. Demand that Gui’s case be brought to a higher power so that more affirmative action can be taken in the fight to release this man from unfair imprisonment.
Dear Ms. Wallström,
As you know, a citizen of your country has allegedly been abducted by Chinese officials and imprisoned for crimes that have not been made clear to the public. While China seems to have concocted a story that criminalizes Gui Minhai, contrary evidence shows that he likely did nothing wrong. Gui owns a publishing company that releases propaganda criticizing Chinese officials, and many human rights activists believe this is the true reason for the imprisonment.
Officials from your country have met with Gui twice, yet still little information has been gathered about what China plans to do with him. It is time to abandon soft-toned inquiries and take this case to a higher power. The European Parliament will soon hold its next meeting, and I urge you to get China’s human rights violations on the schedule so that more effective action can be taken to help this man.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kacey Wong