Every three year, FIDH convenes a congress, participated by all its member organisations worldwide, to elect new leadership, update membership, and adopt resolutions on the issues of concern to the organization.
Vincent Metten, International Campaign for Tibet’s EU Policy Director, attended the Istanbul Congress. ICT’s first participation in FIDH Congress took place in 2010 at Yerevan in Armenia at the 37th Congress when it became a member.
FIDH elected the Iranian lawyer, Dr. Abdol-Karim Lahidji, as its new President. He succeeds Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, who headed the Federation for six years. The Congress also elected the New International Board.
The Congress passed its resolution on Tibet (full text given below) after it discussed the latest developments in Tibet, in particular the cases of self-immolations and the absence of talks between Tibetan and Chinese sides since January 2010.
The resolution denounced the intensification of campaigns against the Dalai Lama and the military build-up in Tibet, and the strengthening of the policies and measures that are the root causes of self-immolations.
It called on the Chinese leadership to resume dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan side, to re-evaluate the “stability maintenance” approach as applied in Tibet and to end the military buildup and limit the dominance of the security apparatus. Furthermore, it encouraged diplomats, including representatives of multilateral organizations, and journalists, to continue seeking access to all Tibetan areas.
In 2012, FIDH published in partnership with ICT a joint report entitled “Human rights violations and self-immolation: testimonies by Tibetans in exile”.
The Istanbul Congress’ theme was “Political Transitions from a Human Rights Perspective”. Keynote speakers included Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, President of the International Criminal Court Song Sang Hyun, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter, and former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion Asma Jahangir.
Founded in 1922, the FIDH is France’s oldest and largest human rights organization, with 178 member organizations in 117 countries around the world.
38th FIDH Congress, Istanbul 23-27 May 2013
38th FIDH Congress Resolution on the human rights situation in Tibet
Adopted on 26 May 2013
The 38th FIDH Congress:
– having regard to FIDH/International Campaign for Tibet joint report “Human Rights Violations and Self-immolation: Testimonies by Tibetans in-Exile” of May 2012;
– having regard to the United Nations’ High-Commissioner for Human Rights’ statement on the situation in Tibet of 2 November 2012;
– having regard to the European Union’s High Representative’s statements on the situation in Tibet of 12 June 2012 and on Tibetan self-immolations of 14 December 2012;
– having regard to the resolution adopted by the French Senate on the European action in favor of the protection of human rights of Tibetan people of 27 November 2012;
A. Whereas the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the elected Tibetan leadership have approached the Government of the People’s Republic of China to find a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution to the issue of Tibet; whereas during the eighth round of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue in 2008 the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama submitted the “Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People” to the representatives of the PRC’s Government and reiterated the Tibetan call for a Middle Way Approach; whereas the talks between the two sides have been at a stalemate since January 2010 after the rejection of the Memorandum by the representatives of the PRC’s Government;
B. Whereas 108 Tibetans have reportedly set themselves on fire since 2009 in protest against restrictive Chinese policies in Tibet and in support of the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as the right to religious freedom in different Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China; whereas laypeople have taken a more dominant role in recent self-immolations, which earlier were carried out only by monks, and the frequency has increased, leading to fears that these actions will be more difficult to stop;
C. Whereas the Chinese government responded to the self-immolations by intensifying the military buildup in Tibet and strengthening the very policies and measures that are the root cause of the acts in the first place; whereas the Chinese government continues to prioritize infrastructure construction and resource exploitation as key elements of its strategic objectives in Tibet; whereas there appears to be a direct correlation between the self-immolations and an intensified campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama together with the aggressive expansion of legal measures tightening state control over Tibetan religion and culture; whereas this response to self-immolations only makes the situation in Tibet more dangerous, with the risk of more self-immolations;
D. Whereas Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, was detained by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China and has not been seen since 14 May 1995;
1. Reiterates that a new approach is warranted in Tibet; the Chinese government needs to take immediate steps to address the current emergency in Tibetan areas;
2. Urges the international community to prevail upon the new Chinese leadership to re-evaluate the “stability maintenance” approach as applied in Tibet, to end the military buildup and limit the dominance of the security apparatus;
3. Encourages diplomats, including representatives of multilateral organizations, and journalists, to continue seeking access to all Tibetan areas until it is granted, based on the principle of reciprocity by which Chinese diplomats and journalists presently enjoy relatively open access and unrestricted travel in the countries they are posted;
4. Endorses the principles set out in the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan people, proposed by the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to their Chinese counterparts in 2008, which provide the basis for a realistic and sustainable political solution to the issue of Tibet;
5. Calls on the “Fifth generation leadership” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to resume dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan side to establish a broader and more substantive dialogue regarding the most serious current threats to Tibetan culture, including Chinese policies on religious practice and expression, education and language, in-migration of non-Tibetans, and economic development;
6. Urges the Chinese government to acknowledge the importance of the Dalai Lama to the Tibetan people and his critical role in Tibet’s future; stop rhetorical attacks and other propaganda efforts directed against the Dalai Lama; accept the Dalai Lama’s offer to engage in dialogue regarding the crisis of self-immolations in Tibet; and provide opportunities for affected communities in Tibet to hear the Dalai Lama’s appeal for peace and an end to the self-immolations;
7. Encourages Chinese authorities to conduct an independent assessment of existing policies, legislation and regulations that negatively impact Tibetan culture, utilizing international expertise and incorporating Tibetan participation;
8. Urges the Chinese government to reassess current security policies in response to unrest, self-immolations and protests in Tibetan areas, and where possible, permanently draw down the security presence in Tibetan areas.