The vice chairman of the European Parliament has stressed the importance of reinstating the only uncensored broadcast into China in the run up to the Olympics.
NTDTV's signal into China ended without warning last month, just weeks from the summer games. The European-based satellite company carrying the signal, Eutelsat, first claimed it was due to a technical fault. But then, a media-freedom watchdog revealed evidence, in the form of a taped phone conversation, showing the signal was deliberately cut at the behest of the regime in China.
Speaking in London on 23rd July, Vice chairman of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott said that according to his knowledge 80 Members of the European Parliament had signed a letter of protest to the CEO of Eutelsat.
Mr McMillan-Scott said: "Now that China is about to host the Olympic Games, with worldwide attention and the reliance on satellite transmissions from China, the only free channel broadcasting into China has been NTDTV, and for some years”.
NTDTVs coverage, carried into China via Eutelsat's W5 satellite has long been a thorn in the side of the regime in China. As one of only a handful of independent Chinese language stations, NTDTV extensively covers issues like human rights, the 'Quit Chinese Communist Party movement – and Falun Gong.
Indeed the regime's hypersensitivity over the spiritual discipline of Falun Gong in particular seems to have been the main motive behind its maneuvering to get NTDTVs signal cut.
In another taped conversation, the Chinese ambassador to Italy, Sun Yuxi, revealed that Falun Gong was the key factor behind the pressure put on Eutelsat to end NTDTV's signal :
Sun Yuxi said: "Once he switched off [the signal]—he especially did this for us—he had people tell my technical support staff to pass the news onto me, the Ambassador, that the issue the Ambassador has spoken with us multiple times has already been taken care of. They said that this… and anything of Falun Gong will never be presented again."
Mr McMillan-Scott also made the connection with the spiritual group, whose estimated 100 million followers in China have lived under the shadow of persecution for the last 9 years.
Speaking at a press conference arranged by NTDTV in the UK, Mr McMillan-Scott described how in May 2006 he himself went to China to interview people who had been formerly imprisoned for practising Falun Gong. "All those I had contact with were subsequently arrested, imprisoned and in at least three cases, tortured," he said.
"I think of Jiang Yanying, at that time she was in a Beijing women's labour camp and her husband came to see me, to plead for her, telling me that she had lost her sight and hearing, and she was being regularly beaten”. In fact she was released and sent me a a testament, an explanation of her time in prison. Attached to it was a list of more than 50 methods of torture which she had suffered."
"It is time that the world paid attention—to what amounts to genocide in China against Falun Gong, and of course one cannot forget the genocide taking place in Tibet against the protests there."
"And so, my message today is keep channels of communication open, to allow the regime in China to understand the way the world thinks about the repression of dissidents and those who want to express themselves. The age of impunity is over. The world is watching, one day justice will come to those responsible for genocide.”