At the ongoing 59th UN Commission on Human Rights session in Geneva on April 1, 2003, New Zealand urged China to begin dialogue with the Dalai Lama while the EU, Canada, and Australia referred to the human rights situation, according to a report by the Tibet Bureau in Geneva. Norway raised the issue of protecting Tibet’s natural environment in addition to cultural preservation and religious freedom concerns.

The governmental representatives were participating in a debate on the agenda item dealing with human rights situations in various countries around the world and their reference to Tibet came in their oral statements.

Delivering the EU statement, Ambassador Tassos Kriekoukis of Greece said, “The EU notes that several high-profile Tibetan political prisoners have been released prior to the completion of their sentence and that a visit of two special envoys of the Dalai Lama in Beijing and Tibet took place in September.”

The statement delivered by Ambassador Mike Smith of Australia said, “We particularly urge China to ensure the right so fits ethnic minorities, including the Uighur and Tibetans. Australia believes that its bilateral dialogue with China is the most effective way to deal with differences over human rights, and that it can achieve more.”

Ambassador Sverre Bergh Johansen of Norway in his statement said that his government “attaches great importance to the preservation of the natural environment, culture and religious identity of the Tibetan people.”

In the Canadian statement by Ambassador Christopher Westdal concern was expressed “about continuing reports of the persistent scale and scope of restrictions on freedom of expression, association and religion, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang, and about the wide spread use of the death penalty, particularly following closed trials.”

Mr. Tim Caughley, a representative of New Zealand urged the Chinese authorities “to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama and to involve the Tibetan people more fully and directly in decisions regarding their development.”

The EU statement, supported by Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania also said:

“Equally disturbing is the deprivation of religious and cultural rights in Tibet, as well as the violation of human rights in Xinjiang, fanned by the intensification of the ‘strike-hard’ campaign, and often under the cloak of the fight against terrorism.

“The trial of Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzing Deleg Rinpoche raised great concern about due process and the application of the death penalty. The EU has already expressed its dismay at the way in which this case was handled, and its disappointment that the Chinese authorities did not keep them informed of developments.

“It felt that this was a breach of the trust built up by the EU/China Human Rights Dialogue. The EU reaffirm that such Dialogue is an acceptable option only if it produces progress on the ground and measurable results. We underline the need for the Dialogue to be based on a genuine demonstration of mutual confidence.”

The Chinese Ambassador delivered a heated statement saying that China “cares most for the human rights of the 1.3 billion Chinese people and they are satisfied with the Chinese government. So long as they are satisfied, the Chinese government will not change it policy. Whether you are concerned or find it acceptable or not is in fact not entirely important and even meaningless. Nobody on this planet can hold back the Chinese people from marching forward along the path of their choice.”

When the Commission on Human Rights concludes its current debate, several NGOs are expected to speak about the human rights situation in Tibet in their oral statements, the Tibet Bureau reports.