Dr Yang will be in London from 28 November to 2 December and then in Brussels until 8 December. In London he will meet with MPs, representatives from the Foreign Office and NGOs, and speak at an event by the Henry Jackson Society, Three Chinas and Liu Xiaobo, on 29 November. In Brussels, Dr Yang will meet with MEPs and representatives from the European External Action Service and EU Member State missions, in addition to addressing the European Parliament’s Subcommittee hearing on Human Rights in China on 6 December. He will also participate in the EU-NGO Forum on the role of regional mechanisms in promoting universality of human rights and their cooperation with civil society, on 6 and 7 December.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW is pleased to host Dr Yang Jianli on his visit to Europe, and we hope that his work will serve to highlight some ongoing challenges with regard to human rights in China, in particular Freedom of Religion or Belief. We also commend the European Parliament’s commitment to raising human rights concerns with China and urge the EU to encourage the Chinese government to work towards greater freedom and democracy for its citizens.”
Dr Yang Jianli is a leading democracy activist living in the US. Disillusioned by the corruption he encountered as a young Communist Party member, he moved to the US to study mathematics at Berkeley. Dr Yang returned to China in 1989 to support the student uprisings and witnessed the brutal reaction of the Chinese government in what would become a turning point in his life. He returned to the US, where he studied Political Economics at Harvard and established the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. In 2002 he went back to China to support the labor movement. He was detained the same year and in 2004 he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for illegal entry and espionage. In jail his high profile meant he escaped the constant torture experienced by his fellow prisoners; Yang himself was placed in solitary confinement for four months. Following his release in 2007, Yang returned to the US and established Initiatives for China, a non-profit organization committed to peaceful transition to democracy in China. Since then he has established the Interethnic/interfaith Leadership Conference series: recent speakers include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, president of the World Uyghur Congress Rebiya Kadeer, and Tibetan and Mongolian human rights leaders and activists.