Tibet NGOs slam political apathy by EU on China

Wednesday, 10 April 2002

Tibet NGOs slam political apathy by European Union on China at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights
(Geneva) Three Tibet NGOs today issued a robust criticism of the European Union for its failure to act on the continued abuses of human rights inflicted by China on its citizens and on the people of occupied Tibet. As the deadline for putting forward resolutions on Agenda Item 9 (Question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world) passed at 6pm today, no resolution concerning the situation in China had been tabled.

"The EU clearly neither possesses the courage or political will to make an objective defence of the Tibetan people's rights, despite expressions of profound concern about China and Tibet in February's General Affairs Council," said Tsewang Lhadon of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. "We fail to understand this selectivity of action by Commission members when Beijing is responsible for more than 50 years of gross and consistent human rights violations in Tibet. This sends the wrong signal to the Tibetan people," added Tsering Jampa of the International Campaign for Tibet.

"The EU had a chance to show leadership on the China issue this year, knowing that the United States would not be a major player at this Commission, but here in Geneva they and the USA have done little more than play ping-pong with the issue of some of the most serious violations of human rights in the world," said Alison Reynolds of Free Tibet Campaign.

The EU has consistently failed since 1997 to take on the China issue at the UNCHR, preferring to leave it to the United States. Human rights are a global responsibility and this dangerously political approach undermines the very integrity of the Commission, and the weakness of this strategy of relying on one member state to act on an issue has been exposed this year by the USA's reduction to observer status. The EU's refusal to sponsor a resolution on China is based on the flawed premise that action on China at the UNCHR will compromise its failing dialogue and provoke political reprisals from China.

A half-hearted lobbying effort by the United States has failed to persuade any EU member to give procedural support to a draft text on China circulated in recent weeks. The United States cannot sponsor resolutions this year, although procedures do allow for observers to submit proposals which may be put to vote on the request of any member of the Commission. Additionally, the chair of the UNCHR can accept proposals from observer states where a consensus is understood to exist for their adoption by the Commission. China's success in politicising criticism of its human rights record means that no chair of the UNCHR would be prepared to accommodate such a request without sponsorship by a Commission member.

Amnesty International's Annual Report published yesterday stated that China executed at least 1800 people last year; three quarters of the 2001 global total. Repression in Tibet has intensified since the last UNCHR and Beijing continues to ignore the Dalai Lama's repeated commitment to talk "anywhere, anytime".

For more information contact:

Tsering Jampa, International Campaign for Tibet and Tsewang Lhado, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Tel +31 629 004547
Alison Reynolds, Free Tibet Campaign. Tel +44 7711 843884

More information on the NGOs can be found on their respective websites:
ICT: http://www.savetibet.org
TCHRD: http://www.tchrd.org