[20 June] The EU and China held the 30th round of the EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights in Beijing on 16 June. In a statement issued by the EU Delegation to China, it was confirmed that the EU "called on the Chinese authorities to provide full information on the fate and whereabouts of the persons who have disappeared from Kirti Monastery". The statement did not mention if the Chinese delegation responded.
The statement said the two sides had "a detailed and searching exchange of views on a wide range of human rights issues" and that the dialogue was "conducted in a frank and open atmosphere". The statement noted that the EU and Chinese delegates held an "in-depth discussion" on the rights of minorities, including Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongols.
During the Dialogue, the EU raised issues including the rule of law, forced disappearances, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and the situation of human rights lawyers and defenders. The EU also raised individual cases (though the statement did not specify which cases were raised) and sought further information about reports of torture of people in detention. The EU repeated its call for the ratification by China of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and of the reform of the Re-education through Labor system.
Read the full EU statement
Prior to the Dialogue, Tibet Society and other organisations and activists sent a letter to the EU Delegation to China expressing a number of concerns on the human rights situation in China, including the current crackdown in Ngaba and the 300 missing monks from Kirti monastery. The letter, copied below, was also included with a press release on 16 June.
Letter to the EU Delegation to China
16 June 2011
The latest round of the EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights will occur in Beijing on 16 June. The EU must stress that the Chinese Communist Party govern their citizens in accordance with internationally recognised human rights standards. The EU should not only raise the worsening human rights situation in China with their Chinese counterparts but should also make a strong and public statement expressing their concerns. In May, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, made only passing references to human rights during his visit to China, failing even to express concern over the missing artist Ai Weiwei. The EU should not allow another significant meeting to pass without calling the Chinese government to account.
Since February, the human rights situation in China has worsened significantly. The Chinese government has directly and institutionally cracked down on civil and political liberties as well as repressing economic, social and cultural rights in the following areas:
We therefore urge that EU representatives attending the Dialogue to:
- Rights to freedom of religion, expression and assembly: The Chinese regime continues to quash dissents and suppress basic civil rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of religion. In March, following peaceful protests at Kirti monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, two Tibetans died from injuries sustained from beatings by police and over 300 monks were forcibly detained and remain missing. For more details on the situation at Kirti see: http://www.tibetsociety.com/content/view/169
- Workers’ rights: The Chinese government continues to restrict the rights of workers such as the formation of independent unions and striking. China is a member of the International Labour Organization, but it fails to satisfy its international obligations. See imprisoned workers’ cases: http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/100014
- Environmental protection: Chinese officials continue to prize economic growth and “stability” over protecting the environment. When environmental NGOs or activists challenge polluting businesses, corrupt local officials or government policy, they often find themselves the victims of persecution. See Karma Samdrup’s case and Tan Zouren’s case at http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784.
- Land and housing rights: Farmers and nomads are struggling as their land is increasingly being unlawfully expropriated by local governments and developers eager for quick, sizeable profits. In the cities, officials continue to infringe upon the housing rights and other basic rights of countless Chinese citizens through abuses related to forced evictions and demolitions. The authorities have grabbed farmland, destroyed grassland and forced evictions, which has even resulted in deaths of those trying to protect their livelihoods. For example, on 10 May, Mergen, a Mongolian herder, was killed whilst trying to block a vehicle during a protest. Activists who organize farmers, nomads and rural residents to stand up for their land rights are routinely harassed or imprisoned. In recent weeks over 90 students, herders and ordinary residents have been arrested in Inner Mongolia during protests since Mergen’s death. For more on Inner Mongolia protests see http://bit.ly/AFPmon.
- Rights lawyers and legal advocates: Numerous rights lawyers and legal advocates are currently being held by government authorities and more have been forced into silence during the recent clampdown. See http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7785.
- Prisoners of conscience: Since the crackdown in February the number of Tibetan, Uighur and Chinese prisoners of conscience has increased. However, for the vast majority there is no news of their location or well-being. Many are feared to be subject to torture. See http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784.
- Death penalty: The Chinese regime continues to execute more people than any other country. The Chinese government should be called upon to instigate an immediate moratorium on executions, in part due to the lack of independent courts and fair trials, in accordance with international law.
- Arbitrary detention: Every year, tens of thousands of petitioners and dissidents are imprisoned in detention facilities, psychiatric facilities or sent to Re-education through Labor. Those who are detained include: those who complain about injustices such as lack of labor protection, land and housing rights; those who publicly protest such as teachers, veterans and bank employees; victims of pollution; and parents whose children were poisoned by dairy products or died in school buildings that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. The Chinese government must be called upon to abolish Re-education through Labor, “law education classes” and the system of intercepting petitioners (jie fang).
- Forced disappearances: Enforced disappearances has become one of the most repressive mechanisms by Chinese regime. Thousands of people have ‘disappeared’ since February. As well as raising the issue in general, the EU delegation should also raise the individual cases of Hada (哈达), Hada’s wife Xinna (新娜), Chen Guangcheng （陈光诚）, Chen’s wife Yuan Weijing (袁伟静), Gao Zhisheng （高智晟）, Liu Xiaobo （刘晓波）, Liu’s wife Liu Xia (刘霞), Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and the 300 Kirti monks. See http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784 and http://www.tibetsociety.com/content/view/169.
Finally, the EU as a democratic union must play a more pro-active and positive role in protecting human rights and upholding justice within its relationship with China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has no electoral mandate, thereby it has no authority or credibility to represent the people under its rule, or to represent China as a member of the United Nations. Ignoring the suffering of millions of people under CCP rule and sacrificing human rights for the expense of short-term economic gains will only give the CCP an open license to continue their abhorrent practices. This will inevitably lead to further human rights abuses not only in China but around the world.
- strongly support human rights defenders and civil society in general, during the talks. The raising of cases with the Chinese government remains an important advocacy tool. Past experience has shown that conditions for political prisoners often improve once their cases have been raised, even if they are not released.
- make robust and clear public statements during the next few days, and whilst in Beijing, about the cases and issues they have raised and the Chinese government’s response.
- resolutely push for openness to the media, both for themselves and their Chinese counterparts.
- take any opportunity they can to speak directly to the people under CCP rule, without censorship or diluting their own message. For example, through online social media or through hosting forums at EU consulates in China.
It is time to stand up and speak out to protect all peoples’ indivisible and unalienable human and civil rights.
Philippa Carrick, CEO, Tibet Society
Jiang, Shao, Student activist
Enver Tohti, Chairman of the Uighur UK Association
Dr. Stephen Ng, Chinese Solidarity Campaign
Wong Sum-Lung, PhD student, Department of Philosophy, University of Essex
Lucy Jin, Coordinator, Federation for a Democratic China (UK)
Rahima Mahmut, freelance interpreter and translator
Tibet Society: Philippa Carrick / Paul Golding 020 7272 1414
For details of selected prisoners of conscience, individuals who have disappeared and lawyers who have been imprisoned or silenced in China, including those mentioned in this open letter, download the Appendices (PDF document).
Tibet Society, the world’s 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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