Panel members

Panel members Lobsang Dorjee, Ms Tsering Jampa, Rebiya Kadeer and Marino Busdachin, moderated by Dr Jan Andersson, Vice Chair of ICT Europe.

Amsterdam – As part of an unofficial alternative program to the Amsterdam China Festival that began on 1 October in Amsterdam, Amnesty International and other organizations hosted a panel discussion on October 5 on “China: The Next Generation – Forgotten minorities” with Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent Uighur human rights activist, and Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of International Campaign for Tibet- Europe, and Lobsang Dorjee of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in India. The General Secretary of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization), Mr. Marino Busdachin, spoke on China’s own constitutional responsibilities towards what China calls “minority populations”.

ICT Europe and Mrs Kadeer were given the opportunity to show a short movie on the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang/East Turkistan and the spoke briefly on the primary issues facing their peoples, before entering into a panel discussion. Mrs Kadeer, dubbed a terrorist by Chinese officials, highlighted problems of sinicization, economic marginalization and religious intolerance in Xinjiang that were clearly similar to the character of Chinese rule in Tibet. At various points during the panel discussion Mrs Kadeer supported the comments made on the Tibetan situation by Lobsang Dorjee and Ms Jampa.

Asked if social and economic marginalization of young Uighurs and Tibetans could lead to clashes between the local population and Chinese authorities in the future, Lobsang Dorjee stressed that the Tibetan resistance has generally been non-violent because of Tibetans’ religious beliefs but that the Chinese authorities had not made it easy to follow a non-violent path. Mrs Kadeer answered that young Uighur’s were being deliberately pushed until breaking point by Chinese authorities to legitimize a harsh crackdown on people Beijing calls “separatists and terrorists”. The panel stressed that China is not only failing to live up to its international treaty obligations on human rights, but is also failing on the standards and rights enshrined in its own constitution.

The series of alternative events under the banner “China: The Next Generation” has caused controversy in Amsterdam, with a great deal of coverage on human rights in China in Dutch media. The official Amsterdam China Festival has been billed as a purely cultural affair organized in cooperation with the Chinese embassy in Holland and numerous corporate sponsors, but critics have argued that the festival gives no voice to the cultural problems China faces. The official festival organizers are reported to have attempted to persuade Amnesty to change the timing of the alternative events and the Chinese embassy is also reported as attempting to pressure organizers and has called the alternative program “totally inappropriate”. Chinese dissident Harry Wu will speak on Friday 7 October.