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UN and EU officials urged to prioritise Tibet PDF Print E-mail
[10 September 2012] United Nations and European Union officials responsible for human rights are being urged to make Tibet an immediate priority. In separate letters from the International Tibet Network, and co-signed by Tibet Society, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights are called upon to speak out over the human rights abuses in Tibet and to engage with the Chinese government to bring an end to the current crisis.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is specifically requested to speak out over the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet at the next session of the Human Rights Council (10 - 28 September). Mrs Pillay is also urged to press China to be allowed to visit Tibet during her second term as High Commissioner.

Mrs Pillay has been High Commissioner for Human Rights for four years. She began her second term on 1 September 2012. (Read letter to Mrs Pillay)

The newly appointed EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, is asked to raise concerns over the human rights situation in Tibet with senior Chinese leaders, to raise the issue at appropriate fora and to facilitate discussions with other governments on possible multi-lateral actions. The letter also urges Mr Lambrinidis to request permission from the Chinese government to visit Tibet.

Mr Lambrinidis was appointed as the EU's Special Representative for Human Rights on 25 July 2012. He was previously Vice President of the European Parliament and Greece's Foreign Affairs Minister. (Read letter to Mr Lambrinidis)

Note: The International Tibet Network (ITN) is a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations. Tibet Society is a member organisation of ITN. ITN's purpose is to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement, which is dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and cultural status. See for more information.

Text of letter to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

30 August 2012

Dear High Commissioner,

We, the 185 Member Groups of the International Tibet Network, are writing to congratulate you on the renewal of your mandate and to request that you make the human rights situation in Tibet an urgent priority during your second term of office.

There is ample evidence that the Chinese state is the primary violator of human rights in Tibet and is thus failing in its responsibility to protect the Tibetan people and their rights under Chinese and international law. Given the history of Chinese rule in Tibet and the critical circumstances of the current situation, including more than 50 Tibetan self-immolations to date, we strongly believe that a qualitatively different response from the international community is warranted. Your active engagement on the Tibet issue is necessary to bring about such a response.

Specifically, we are urging governments around the world to press the Chinese government for an agreement on dates for your visit and an agenda that would include sufficient time for an assessment of policies and grievances in those Tibetan areas that have been experiencing the most intense protests and crackdown. We hope that your office will continue to exert every effort to get China to agree dates for such a visit at the earliest opportunity.

We appreciate the concerns of your office as expressed to Tibetan hunger strikers in New York in March. Although the details of your communication were not made public, we understand from statements to the media that the Tibetans were given assurances that UN Special Rapporteurs had been assigned to look into the situation in Tibet. The Tibetan community and NGOs working in common purpose with them would understandably appreciate an indication from your office about what steps have been taken since March, and what information has been gathered so that we can effectively pursue follow-up actions.

We remain deeply concerned that you have not spoken out forcefully about the human rights situation in Tibet, and that your reports to recent UN Human Rights Council sessions have not identified Tibet as an urgent concern. Just as your office has swiftly responded to other emerging situations of severe human rights violations, we appeal for a similar response to the situation in Tibet. Particularly, we call on you to express concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet in your Update Report to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council in September.

We strongly believe that the escalating tension in Tibet is exacerbated by the tools of oppression and brutality employed by the Chinese authorities, and that you have a role in helping to move this crisis situation onto a different trajectory.


International Tibet Network
on behalf of 185 member groups

Text of letter to Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights

31 August 2012

Dear Special Representative,
We, the undersigned Members of the International Tibet Network, a global coalition of Tibet-related advocacy groups, congratulate you on your appointment as EU Special Representative for Human Rights, and write at the commencement of your term to request that you make Tibet a major and immediate priority.

As you may be aware, sixty years of China's failed colonial policies in Tibet have contributed to a state of turmoil, with more than 50 Tibetans confirmed to have set themselves alight - 42 of them fatally - protesting China's rule, calling for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. Mass demonstrations continue to take place on a regular basis, despite often brutal suppression, arrests and harsh sentencings. There has been no meeting between Chinese officials and representatives of the
Dalai Lama since January 2010, and no prospect of such meetings resuming; indeed the Dalai Lama's envoys recently resigned their posts.

The appointment by the European Union of a Special Representative for Human Rights at this critical time has provided a source of hope for Tibetans in Tibet and in exile, and we urge you to take a number of steps to fulfill those hopes by encouraging a greater level of multi-lateral engagement on the Tibet issue, with a view to considerably strengthening the EU's position on Tibet.

In response to the current situation in Tibet, we request you to:

* Request that Tibet is discussed as a matter of priority at the next meetings of COHOM and COASI, and facilitate discussions on how to increase the visibility and effectiveness of the Council and EU Member States' multi-lateral action to address the situation in Tibet, and convey a strengthened EU position to the Chinese leadership.

* Ensure that you have sufficient capacity to address the situation in Tibet by urging the appointment of a staff person (ideally a Tibetan-speaker) within the EU Delegation in Beijing, to monitor developments and give advice ranging from diplomatic representations to appropriate development projects. International Tibet Network Members have previously written to Ambassador Markus Ederer and to the High Representative Baroness Ashton about this.

* Commit to expressing the EU's serious concerns about the self-immolations and degradation in the
human rights situation in Tibet with senior Chinese leaders, in Brussels and in China, including meeting Wen Jiabao during the course of his visit for the EU China summit on 20 September.

* Make a written request to the authorities of the PRC for permission to visit Tibet, including Tibetan areas outside of the so-called "Tibet Autonomous Region" as soon as possible.

Finally we wish to convey how much we welcomed the High Representative's robust remarks during a debate on Tibet in the European Parliament in June 2012. In addition to her concerns over the self  immolations, over restrictions on religious freedom and freedom of expression, we especially appreciated Baroness Ashton's comments about Tibet's nomads: "[The EU] it is most concerned about the impact of the resettlement policy of Tibetan nomads.... While taking note of the Chinese authorities commitment that the resettlement of nomads is intended to preserve the Tibetan grasslands, the EU questions whether the objective of environmental protection can only be reached by eliminating the traditional way of life of Tibetans who have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. The EU is concerned that compulsory resettlement of all nomads has the potential to destroy the distinctive Tibetan culture and identity." We would be grateful for your views on how you propose to follow-up on this particular issue.

We look forward to your reply,

International Tibet Network
on behalf of European member groups

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 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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