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China criticised over Tibet at UN and EU PDF Print E-mail
[3 October 2012] The issue of Tibet has been raised with the Chinese government at both the United Nations and European Union levels in the past few weeks. Human rights violations in Tibet were raised by several countries and NGOs at the UN Human Rights Council in mid-September. Concerns were also highlighted during the latest EU-China Dialogue held on 20 September.

UN Human Rights Council  I  EU-China Dialogue

Tibet raised at United Nations Human Rights Council
UNHRC logoThe ongoing crisis inside Tibet was raised at the 21st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council by several government delegations and non-government organisations (NGOs). The session was held in Geneva between 10 and 28 September.

During a debate on 17 September, a number of countries raised human rights violations in China, including the Czech Republic, Cyprus (on behalf of the European Union), Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Issues raised included forced disappearances, extrajudicial detentions, persecution of lawyers and human rights defenders, and the death penalty. Concerns were also stated over the lack of freedom of expression, the lack of freedom of religion and the treatment of minorities, particularly Tibetans and Uighurs.

In the debate, the Czech Republic said it,"remains deeply concerned about the deterioration of the situation in Tibetan-inhabited areas where increasing restrictions on religious freedom have lead to a series of self-immolation cases". The Czech delegation added, "A number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have been recently imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including Mr Yonten Gyatso reportedly sentenced over sending information to the Human Rights Council."

UNHRC sessionSpeaking on behalf of the EU, Cyprus said the EU remains seriously concerned about ongoing human rights violations in China, particularly with regard to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief, and the situation of Tibetan and Uighur minorities.

The United States stated, "China silences dissent through arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions; has tightened controls on the internet; persecutes human rights lawyers; intimidates activists' families; impedes civil society; harasses journalists; and limits religious freedom. Government policies undermine the linguistic, religious, cultural, and livelihood traditions of its minorities."

The Swedish delegation called on China "to ensure that the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including in Tibet and Xinjiang, are fully respected".

The Chinese delegation at the Session rejected all the country statements which referred to human rights abuses in China, claiming the statements were "politicised".

On 11 September, a Tibetan was given the opportunity to address the UN Human Rights Council. Ngawang Choephel, President of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) and speaking on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, criticised the UN Human Rights Council for its lack of action against human rights abuses commited by the Chinese government. Mr Choephel said, "We are disappointed on the High Commissioner's persistent silence on the massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms taking place in the People's Republic of China, especially of Mongolians, Tibetans and Uyghurs."

A briefing on the self-immolations in Tibet was given in Geneva by several NGOs, including International Campaign for Tibet and Human Rights Watch, at the time of the Human Rights Council. The briefing was attended by representatives of official member delegations, including the Chinese mission in Geneva. The briefing included witness statements, video footage from March 2011 of an armed crackdown in Ngaba following a self-immolation, and a panel discussion.

At the briefing, International Campaign for Tibet called on the Chinese government "to take immediate steps to address the current emergency in Tibetan areas". It also called upon international governments to "coordinate their efforts... and explicitly call upon the Chinese government to address the policies in Tibet threatening Tibetan culture, religion and identity that are at the root cause of the current crisis."

Further reading: ICT (18 Sept) I ICT (21 Sept) I Phayul news report

EU raisess "concerns" over Tibet with China
The European Union expressed its "concerns" over the current situation in Tibet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the 15th EU-China Summit held in Brussels on 20 September.

EU-China DialogueIn a press statement at the end of the Summit, which focused primarily on trade and development, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jos Manuel Barroso (pictured right with Premier Wen) said, "The EU attaches great importance to the respect for fundamental freedoms in China."

The statement continued, We recognise the tremendous progress achieved in China by lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But there are also concerns, in particular regarding restrictions of freedom of expression and the situation in Tibet.

The Presidents' statement also noted that the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, last held in May 2012, "should deliver more progress on the ground", adding that "there is still room for improvement".

The post-summit press conference was cancelled after China attempted to place restrictions on which journalists could attend and the questions that could be asked. As it was Premier Wen's last EU-China Summit it would seem he did not want to face questions on sensitive topics such as TIbet and Taiwan.

Further reading: EU press ptatement (PDF doc) I EU-China Dialogue official info
News reports: Phayul I Reuters I AP I AFP

Note: Prior to the UN Human Rights Council Session and the EU-China Dialogue, UN and EU officials were urged to make Tibet a priority during their meetings. 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 were called upon to speak out over human rights abuses in Tibet and to engage with the Chinese government to bring an end to the current crisis.
Click here to read the letters.

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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