Mum is the word
EU yet again chooses to keep silent about China's gross violations of human rights in Tibet
13 March, 2002
In a discouraging move for Tibetans and Tibet supporters, the EU chose to keep silent about China's gross violations of human rights in Tibet. The EU stated its refusal to sponsor a China resolution this year at the annual UNHCR Session.
The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), in a press statement, expressed its disappointment with the European Union's "apparent decision not to sponsor a resolution on China at the 58th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, considering the abundant reporting on China's human rights violations in Tibet".
The EU's decision contradicts its expressed human rights policy, namely to develop and strengthen democracy and rule of law as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Talking to The Economist earlier, his Holiness the Dalai Lama's Representative in Brussels, Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen said "EU fails to recognise the complexity of the 'Tibetan problem".
Mr. Gyaltsen added that the European Commission and Council of Ministers seemed "to lack a clear and sustained policy" on the country. The institutions' efforts to raise the plight of the Chinese occupied state with Beijing have brought no tangible benefits, he believes. "Indeed, over the past few years, the Chinese government's attitude on Tibet appears to have hardened significantly."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his statement of 10 March called on the International Community to "assume a responsibility to give strong and effective support to non-violent movements committed to peaceful changes."
The Nobel Laureate warned that otherwise "it will be seen as hypocrisy to condemn and combat those who have risen in anger and despair but to continue to ignore those who have consistently espoused restraint and dialogue as a constructive alternative to violence."
The exiled leader also appealed to the EU to appoint a special representative to the country, with a similar status to its envoys to the Middle East and Balkans.
Gyaltsen said that such a move could help deter campaigners for Tibetan autonomy from resorting to violence and would be consistent with the goals of the worldwide coalition against terrorism, reported The Economist.
"The intransigence of the Chinese government and the absence of visible and concrete support for Tibet by the international community encourage radicalism and militancy," he was quoted.
"The European Union's refusal to sponsor a China resolution allows Beijing to act with impunity against the Tibetan people," said Tsering Jampa, Director of ICT Europe.
The EU couched its decision against the resolution by indicating that its discreet bilateral human rights dialogue with China offered a better approach.
"Not surprisingly, Beijing prefers back-room conversations to the bright light of public debate of its human rights record," said Jampa. "However, no one believes that the bilateral human rights dialogue has been productive for the Tibetan people," she continued.
Since 1997, EU's influence at the Commission has receded, and the United States has taken the lead in building support for a China resolution. However, US-sponsored China resolutions in 1998, 1999 and 2000 were stopped before debate by a procedural "no action" motion introduced by China. Last year, European manoeuvring shut out the United States from re-election in the slot reserved for Western block member nations at the Commission, relegating responsibility for the China resolution to the EU.
"The United States never so utterly abandoned its responsibility as a free nation and member of the Human Rights Commission as the EU has with its refusal to sponsor a China resolution this year, she continued.
John Ackerly,ICT President. said, "the U.S. experience shows that countries can sponsor resolutions and maintain a human rights dialogue with China. The test for sponsorship should be primarily based on whether human rights have significantly improved, and they have not. The EU should have the courage of conviction to consider a resolution on China based on its merits, and not take a back-seat to promoting human rights for Chinese and Tibetans."
The UN Human Rights Commission meets from March 18 to April 26 in Geneva, Switzerland.