EU-China Summit must tackle Tibet crisis

The European Union has an important opportunity with the EU-China Summit next week to call upon the Chinese leadership to use restraint and end the crackdown in eastern Tibet at a time of crisis. The president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso will be in Beijing for the high-level February 14 meeting, which coincides with the visit of China’s presumptive next leader Xi Jinping to Washington to meet President Obama.

At least three Tibetans have been shot dead in recent weeks in Tibetan areas of Sichuan, after a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans since February 2009 (ICT’s Self immolation fact sheet).

The hardline attitude of the government of the People’s Republic of China that ignores the underlying grievances of the Tibetans, and the use of force against peaceful protestors, has not so far contained the crisis.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director said today: “The wave of Tibetan self-immolations since March 2011, and the violent police response to peaceful protesters this year in Tibet must be urgently and publicly addressed at the upcoming EU-China Summit so that the weight of international outrage is registered in Beijing and Chinese leaders are moved to change course in Tibet.”

On February 2nd, the International Campaign for Tibet and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) sent a letter (available at: to all Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 27 Members States calling Member States and the EU to:

– Express their concerns in national public statement;

– Support the adoption of a EU public statement about the human rights situation in Tibet in general and specifically the cases of self-immolation and shooting/killings of several unarmed and peaceful Tibetan protesters in 2012.

ICT and FIDH also called Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso to raise and forward the public concerns expressed by several EU Member States (Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, UK ) about the situation in Tibet during their talks with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao at the next EU-China Summit in Beijing.

In addition, both NGOs urge the Chinese government to take back its severe restrictions on Tibetan religious and cultural rights and to engage with urgency in dialogue with Tibetans on the underlying grievances that have provoked the volatile and tragic situation in Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China.

Furthermore, ICT and FIDH have urge that the Chinese authorities resume their dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama that has not taken place since January/February 2010, mindful that many, if not all the Tibetans who have self-immolated, have called for the long-life or return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.