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European President fails to raise Tibet during China visit PDF Print E-mail
[17 May 2011] European Council President Herman Van Rompuy raised human rights in a speech to China's Communist Party members, and apparently during meetings with Hu Jinato and Wen Jiabao, but he failed to raise Tibet and he did not mention cases such as that of Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo or Dhondup Wangchen. President van Rompuy was on an official three day visit to China which began on 15 May.

EU flagPrior to the trip, the Dalai Lama's Envoy, Kelsang Gyaltsen, urged President van Rompuy to speak out on repression in Tibet and to confront China on human rights. Tibet Society wrote to President van Rompuy with similar demands.

On 17 May, in a speech to members of China's Communist Party at the Central Party School, President van Rompuy said "China's contribution to implementing the universal principles of human rights and rule of law will be an important element shaping its global public reputation." He added, "For us [the EU], the 'Arab spring' has been a clear reminder that the values of justice, democracy and social development are universal." However, there was no further mention of human rights which was pre-occupied with economics and trade.

In official press releases following meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, President van Rompuy said he had raised human rights. However, it is understood that Tibet was not raised, nor individual prisoner cases.

Tibet Society is disappointed that the President of the European Council failed to take the opportunity to raise the issue of Tibet and particularly the crackdown that is currently taking place at Kirti monastery in Ngaba which has seen the deaths of three people, the removal of 300 monks from Kirti monastery and the arrest of many others. That President van Rompuy even failed to express concern over the high profile case of Ai Weiwei shows the lack of importance given to human rights and the priority given to not offending the Chinese leadership in deference to trade relations.
Read President van Rompuy's speech given to China's Communist Party members

[13 May] Speaking in Brussels, the Dalai Lama's envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen said, "If the Chinese side does not show any positive signs, if it brushes off the concerns expressed by the EU, he should make public the EU's disappointment and criticise the despicable situation in Tibet." He added, "If the EU does not take this opportunity, it will send a very bad signal to hardliners in China that they can continue to abuse the rights of Tibetan people with impunity from the international community." Read report by

On 10 May, Tibet Society wrote to President van Rompuy, calling on him to not only raise Tibet and human rights issues with the Chinese leadership but to also make a public statement during his trip strongly expressing concern over the current situation in Tibet, in particular the military crackdown at Kirti monastery in Ngaba.
Copies of the letter were also sent to Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice President of the European Commission and Markus Ederer, Head of EU Delegation to Beijing.

Take Action:
Please send emails to Markus Ederer, Head of EU Delegation to Beijing
supporting Tibet Society's request for President van Rompuy to make a public statement on Tibet and human rights whilst in China. Feel free to cut and paste from the letter below, but please also personalise the message by adding your own comments.
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Tibet Society's letter to President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy

Herman van Rompuy
President of the European Council
Rue de la Loi 175
B-1048 Brussels

10 May 2011

Dear President van Rompuy,

Your forthcoming visit to China comes at a critical time for human rights defenders in Tibet and China. Tibet Society urges you to take the opportunity to strongly express the European Union's deep concern over the current situation and insist the Chinese government upholds the human rights of all its citizens, as guaranteed not only by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also, in many cases, by the Chinese constitution.

In recent months the Chinese government has been arbitrarily arresting dissidents, lawyers, artists and writers. Many are being held without charge, some have received heavy sentences for simply expressing their opinion and others have disappeared. The artist Ai Weiwei and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo are two high profile cases which typify hundreds of other cases across China. In addition, there are over 60 known similar cases in Tibet. Tibetans have even been arrested, imprisoned and tortured for sending a text message describing a protest or possessing a ringtone which is deemed inappropriate by the authorities (such as a tune to a freedom song).

The overall situation in Tibet continues to worsen. Since mid-March Kirti monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba, Sichuan Province), has been under a military lockdown, following local protests against China's repressive policies. Two elderly Tibetans died after being severely beaten by police forces when they attempted to stop the removal of 300 monks from the monastery. The remaining monks are reported to have been subjected to intense "patriotic re-education" sessions. Since the crackdown the Chinese authorities have imposed a media ban on the region and refused access to independent observers.

Tibet Society urges you to take pro-active measures that prevent China from using your visit as validation for its current policies in Tibet and on human rights. Many visiting leaders in the past have failed to broach these subjects and the Chinese government has subsequently implied this silence inferred support for their policies. Please ensure the European Union does not fall into this trap by publicly and strongly expressing the EU's concern over the current situation during your trip, as well as raising the issues directly with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Specifically, Tibet Society urges you to:
call on the Chinese government to end the military lockdown at Kirti monastery.
call for the release of all monks and laypeople detained in Ngaba since the crackdown began in mid-March.
demand that diplomatic observers and the media be permitted free access to Tibetan regions, and in particular to Ngaba and Kirti monastery.
call for the release of Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo and all those detained in connection with China's current crackdown on dissent.
call for the release of all political prisoners in Tibet and across China.

Finally, Tibet Society recommends that the EU appoints a Tibet Liaison Officer within its Delegation to China. Such a position would not only increase the EU's ability to monitor and respond to events in Tibet but it would also send a message to China that the EU is taking the issue of Tibet seriously.

I look forward to receiving a response on the matters raised and to hearing a statement on these issues whilst you are in China.

Yours sincerely,

Philippa Carrick
CEO, Tibet Society

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 20; Overseas 32; Life 400).

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