Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 12, 2019
Two Canadians held for a year by China remain ‘resilient’
Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, were both detained on 10 December 2018.
China has accused the pair of espionage.
The move by Beijing is widely viewed as “hostage diplomacy” – a tactic to put the pressure on Canada to release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Beijing denies the men’s cases are related to Ms Meng’s arrest in Canada last year, but supporters say the two are being used as pawns in a larger political dispute.
The Canadian government says neither man has had access to a lawyer and have been denied contact with their families and loved ones.
“Our heart goes out to the two Canadians detained in China unjustly,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.
“It’s difficult to even describe this cloud, or the weight that hangs over an organisation when your colleague, your friend has been in a Chinese prison for a year,” Brittany Brown, with the International Crisis Group, Mr Kovrig’s employer, told the BBC.
“Not a day goes by that someone in Crisis Group is doing something, engaging with someone, talking with someone, pushing certain points behind the scenes to try and support the Canadian [government] efforts,” she said.
Current and past presidents from the NGO published an open letter last week calling his detention “unjust and inhumane”.
Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, said that during a recent consular visit, Mr Kovrig asked officials: “When are you going to get me out of this mess?”
“You need to have some hope,” says Mr Saint-Jacques, who once worked with the ex-diplomat. (BBC)