EU: Challenge human rights in Tibet during upcoming dialogue with China

(Brussels, 5 December 2014) – The European Union (EU) must address the worsening of the human rights situation in Tibet at the upcoming 33rd round of the EU-China human rights dialogue to be held on 8 – 9 December 2014 in Brussels. One day after the dialogue on 10 December, on the occasion of the International Human rights Day and to mark the 25th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama in 1989, the Tibetan Community in Belgium will hold a demonstration in front of the European Parliament (1 – 3 pm).

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) calls upon the EU to raise at the EU-China human rights dialogue, the criminalization measures of self-immolations and “counter-terrorism” campaign in Tibet as well as the increased use of force by the police and violations of freedom of religion.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director at ICT’s Brussels office, said: “It is of fundamental importance that the EU does not compromise on its human rights values with China. We urge the EU to be vocal about the situation in Tibet and state clear expectations for progress to the Chinese authorities, drawing upon the outcomes of the first official visit of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to Tibet in September 2013. ICT regrets that the EU has been unable to confront China and resist to the more restrictive conditions it imposed on the human rights dialogue, in particular on the unilateral decision imposed by Beijing to decrease the annual number of rounds of talks from two to one.”

The EU-China human rights dialogue has been the oldest of such dialogues between the EU and third countries. Echoing the European Parliament’s enduring criticism, ICT has often expressed its concerns about the way the EU has been conducting its human rights dialogue with China, challenging its status quo.

Unfortunately, the dialogue has so far failed to achieve concrete progress on the ground. On the contrary, since Xi Jinping assumed power in 2013 the human rights situation in both mainland China and Tibet has worsened. In Tibet this has resulted into an intensified militarization of the plateau, military drills with the specific objective of combating self-immolations and training sessions for police stationed in Tibetan monasteries.
The announcement made by Chinese officials during the latest round of the EU-China human rights dialogue, held in June 2013, to no longer accept a list of individual cases of political prisoners demonstrates their wish to downgrade the human rights dialogue process.

ICT urges the EU to refrain from accepting this further restriction and instead raise the cases of three political prisoners at risk in Tibet – Dolma Kyab, Lobsang Kunchok and Khenpo Kartse – two of whom have been sentenced to death. ICT has also repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, detained since 2002 after a secret trial on grounds of separatism.

ICT urged the new EU High Representative Federica Mogherini to prioritize human rights in China and Tibet during her tenure by rethinking the EU’s strategy towards China and adopting a more ambitious approach. The upcoming new round of the EU-China human rights dialogue provides the EU an excellent litmus test opportunity.

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