China's human rights situation "worst for many years"; group "deeply concerned" about uncritical friendship with China
The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission (CPHRC) today launched a report entitled The Darkest Moment: The Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2013-2016. The report documents a “severe deterioration” of China’s human rights record since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2013 and calls for the UK Government to reconsider its own China policy in light of its findings. Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the Commission, calls for the UK government to “speak out publicly and consistently on human rights, and consider ways it can more effectively promote and protect basic rights that are being gravely violated…”
Based on submissions by more than 30 organisations, including Free Tibet, the report is particularly significant because the CPHRC is tasked by the Conservative Party, which currently forms the UK government, to address serious human rights problems. It is independent of the government, however, and its choice to examine China and its criticisms of UK policy, including its reluctance to speak out publicly on human rights issues, has not been welcomed by some in government.
ISSUES IN TIBET
The report devotes a section to Tibet, using much of the evidence Free Tibet submitted, describing key issues such as the denial of religious freedom, torture, suppression of Tibetan language and culture, self-immolation protests and surveillance. The section concludes by referring to our submission:
“It is important to note Free Tibet’s observation that the reduction in the number of the most egregious abuses in Tibet over the past three years, such as the comparatively less frequent instances of lethal force being employed to control protests, should not be regarded as any sign of improvement. ‘This does not indicate a softening of China’s approach in Tibet, or greater acceptance of Chinese rule by Tibetans,’ argue Free Tibet. ‘Instead, it reflects China’s current effectiveness in implementing policies that have so restricted Tibetans’ ability to express opposition to its rule in both private and public spheres that the need to systematically employ violence arises more rarely.’
HUMAN RIGHTS RECOMMENDATIONS
The Commission calls on the UK government to place human rights at the centre of the UK’s relationship with China, and puts forward 22 specific recommendations. These include calling for the UK government to urge China to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to be permitted unrestricted access to Tibet and engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama. It also recommends that the UK government should meet the Dalai Lama, something it has strenuously avoided doing for many years.
Free Tibet was invited to the launch of the report in the House of Commons today, where former Hong Kong governor and senior Conservative politician Lord Patten heaped scorn on the idea that "kowtowing" to China is necessary to promote trade, describing it as "demonstrable drivel". In regard to meeting the Dalai Lama he said politicians should not "allow our diaries to be determined by the Ambassador to the Court of St James [the Chinese ambassador to the UK]".
Contact your government
If you are a UK citizen, please contact the UK government to ask it to act without delay on the report’s recommendations.
If you are not a UK citizen, please contact your own government and ask it to stand up for human rights in Tibet.