Commenting on the nomination of Martti Ahitsaari for the Nobel Peace Prize, a leading MEP expressed disappointment at the failure to honour imprisoned Chinese dissidents who represent the thousands incarcerated during China's olympic crackdown:
"It is disappointing that the Nobel Peace Prize committee failed to accentuate the scale and brutality of China's olympic crackdown in awarding the Nobel Prize to a retired politician who was well-rewarded financially for his efforts and who made no particular personal sacrifice. It is an opportunity missed to change the world for the better by encouraging reform in China. I am aware that there was intense diplomatic pressure from Beijing after widespread reports - welcomed worldwide - that Chinese dissidents were being nominated," said Edward McMillan-Scott MEP (Yorkshire and Humber UK, Conservatives), a European Parliament Vice-President, founder of the EU's €140 million Democracy and Human Rights Instrument, who put forward imprisoned Christian human rights attorney Mr Gao Zhisheng, and HIV and environmental activist, Mr Hu Jia, with whom he first made contact during a visit to Beijing in May 2006. Edward McMillan-Scott received a reliable report yesterday that Gao, his wife and children are being tortured in Beijing; earlier this year Gao twice attempted to take his life after 44 days of torture. Gao wrote to McMillan-Scott in an open letter shortly before he disappeared into custody on September 22, 2007 - http://www.boycottbeijing.eu/4.html. McMillan-Scott has pressed for his release privately with a range of international bodies.