Edward McMillan-Scott, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, has spoken out against the recent arrests of high profile human rights lawyers by the Chinese communist authorities.
Speaking to independent Chinese language radio station Sound of Hope, Mr McMillan-Scott, said he was "very shocked" to hear the news of the arrest of lawyers Gao Zhisheng and Yang Zaixin.
On Tuesday August 15, Mr Gao was arrested by plainclothes policemen in Dongying city, Shandong province. He has been the most visible critic within China of the Communist regime for its persecution against Christians, Muslims and practitioners of the Falun Gong meditation practice.
Further reports concerning the circumstances of Mr Yang, a human rights lawyer from Guangxi Province, will reveal more of his situation.
Mr McMillan-Scott said it is "appalling [that Mr Gao] should have been detained by the police, given the commitment that he has made to human rights and civil rights in China. "And I am also very very sad to hear that Mr Yang Zaixin has also been imprisoned by the police."
"Both of these attorneys not only helped many other people of different faiths, but also specialised in helping people in the Falun Gong tradition in China in recent years," said Mr McMillan-Scott.
The Vice-President of the European Parliament conducted a fact finding mission to China in May investigating the persecution of Falun Gong and the reports of organ harvesting of practitioners by the communist authorities. During his China visit he met with Mr Gao.
"When I spoke to Mr Gao Zhisheng in May, I was profoundly impressed by his integrity, his courage, his inner strength. And I hope all of those people who have been helped in the past by these two attorneys will make sure that the authorities in China are no doubt whatever of the anger they feel at this ridiculous gesture," said Mr McMillan-Scott.
It has further been reported that another lawyer has also been arrested; Xu Zhiyong, a law academic from Beijing, who was detained by Chinese police on Thursday in Shandong province. Reuters reported that Mr Xu was preparing to defend blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng in a court case.
Mr Gao has also campaigned for Mr Xu's release.
Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong-Kong based researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters that "There is no doubt in my mind that there is a concerted crackdown on rights lawyers under way."