BERLIN, GERMANY April 24, 2011: The Human Rights Committee of the German parliament, the Bundestag, has today passed a “Joint Declaration” criticizing the Chinese leadership for human rights violations in Tibet and disrespect for the Tibetan culture as the root cause for Tibetan self-immolations (to date, 117 Tibetans are known to have self-immolated in the People’s Republic of China since February 27, 2009). According to the Joint Declaration, “The significant rise of self-immolations is an expression of deepest desperation about the lack of freedom, as well as about non-existent freedom of religion and the refusal of the Chinese leadership to respect a unique cultural identity.”

The Joint Declaration continues, “We urge the new Chinese leadership to open up a new chapter in their relations to the Tibetans, to look into the causes of these desperate acts and to bring about necessary reforms. The Chinese leadership must respect the human rights of the Tibetans and their right to live their own culture and religion. Hence, we urge the Chinese leadership to end the control of religious life and to stop the repression of the authorities. At the same time we demand from the Chinese leadership to re-start the dialogue with Tibet and the Tibetans suspended in 2010, in order to find a solution that is appropriate to the unique cultures of the Chinese and the Tibetans, and in order to prevent such acts of desperation like the self-immolations in the future.”

The parliamentarians appeal to the Tibetan people to “express their protest in a different manner than through violence against oneself,” and to Tibetan religious leaders “to continue to be committed to ask their brothers and sisters in faith to refrain from further self-immolations and to reduce the tragic loss of life.”

The German Human Rights Committee also pays reference to statements of other international bodies: “We strongly support the statements on this troublesome development, as given lately by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, by the Sub-Committee for Human Rights of the European Parliament and by the High Representative of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, as well as the statements by numerous parliaments, organisations and important persons who have commented similarly. We also support the call for access for UN-diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists to Tibet.”

With respect to the German government, the Committee “asks the Federal Government to continue to work bilaterally and on the international level towards an improvement of the situation in Tibet and while doing so, to also make use of the German Dialogue on Law and the EU-Human Rights Dialogue with China.”

ICT-Germany executive director Kai Müller welcomed the Joint Declaration, as an important signal to Beijing from the German capital. “We are pleased to see the Committee take such an unambiguous position based on justice and human rights. Germany, as an important partner of the PRC, is in a good position to address human rights and the Tibet issue with the Chinese government.”