EU flagToday Free Tibet Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet Europe presented a joint letter to the Director of the Asia Pacific Division of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, summarizing key concerns on the Tibet issue ahead of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on 24 October. Britain currently holds the Presidency of the EU and will lead the EU’s delegation to Beijing next week. The dialogue takes place in advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s State Visit to the UK (8-10 November).

“Tibetans face the systematic violation of their human rights and this has been well-documented by NGOs and the UN,” said Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of International Campaign for Tibet – Europe. “But European governments must understand that the Tibetan issue is not just one of religious repression or human rights abuses. These violations are symptoms of a deeper political problem that demands a political solution. If the EU is serious about encouraging a non-violent resolution of the Tibetan issue, it is critical that our leaders do more than just pay lip service to the Tibet issue, but instead actively work towards getting the leaders of China to sit down with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan problem.”

The letter expressed the concern of many NGOs about the effectiveness of the bilateral dialogues in securing real improvements on the ground in China and Tibet. The EU’s dialogue was instituted in January 1995, interrupted in the Spring of 1996, and reinstituted in November 1997 after the handover of Hong Kong.

“In almost ten years the Dialogue process has brought few concrete results for Tibetans and there is a growing disillusionment about the ability of these meetings to bring any real advancement of human rights in Tibet or the rest of China.” said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. “In particular, the EU sets no timeframe for China to meet the EU’s benchmarks for improvement – without this incentive, how can we expect China to see these meetings as anything more than a PR exercise?”

The letter raised the following specific issues of concern and called on the EU to take affirmative action on each of these points:

  1. Formal contact between Beijing and the Representatives of the Dalai Lama
    • That the EU encourages Chinese leaders to develop more personal contact with the Dalai Lama.
    • That the EU asks China by what criteria it assesses the progress of formal contact with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, and China decides when future meetings will take place.
    • That the EU presses China to publicly respond to questions about the dialogue, demonstrate a greater commitment to the process and refrain from personal attacks against the Dalai Lama or his attempts to reach a negotiated solution, since these only serve to undermine any advancement that might be made as part of the dialogue process.
    • That the EU urges China to drop all pre-conditions to negotiations, and to include all areas with Tibetan ‘autonomous’ status in any future discussions

  2. Access to and further information about the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima
    • That the EU clearly states its support for the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child made in September, that the Committee remains concerned that it had not yet been possible to have information provided by China on Gedhun Choekyi Nyima confirmed by an independent expert and that the Chinese authorities should “allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents.”
    • That the EU urges the Chinese authorities to allow independent access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima at the soonest possible occasion.

  3. Use of Torture
    • That the EU request that claims by the Chinese Supreme People’s Procuratorate that it has filed criminal cases against 1,751 officials for human rights violations since July 2004 be broken down into Province by Province figures to better ascertain what is being done in Tibet to eradicate the grave problem of torture, abuse and ill-treatment of detainees, particularly those detained on political charges

  4. Other Political Prisoners
    • That the EU asks how the recent announcement of prosecutions and investigations of torture allegations in death sentence cases affects the case of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche.
    • That the EU asks whether claims of torture inflicted on Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche’s co-accused Lobsang Dhondup have been investigated.
    • That the EU asks if Bangri Tsultrim Rinpoche has been hospitalised and what the reason for this was, and why he has been restrained, as highlighted in a recent ICT report.
    • That the EU asks for more information on Sonam Gyalpo, arrested on 28 August 2005, just prior to the 40th anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Sonam Gyalpo’s current whereabouts are unknown.