The U.S. State Department has told the Chinese government that policies that “stifle dissent and tighten controls” in Tibet are “counterproductive” and urged reengagement in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama without preconditions. The delegation, led by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya, met with their Chinese counterparts as part of the 18th U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in Kunming, China, on July 30-31.
“We are pleased that the State Department prioritized the grave situation in Tibet during its dialogue with the Chinese,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “We hope that engagement was more than a mere exchange of positions by both sides, and that the Chinese side was receptive to suggestions about how policies in Tibetan areas can properly conform to standards under international human rights law.”
In an August 2 press briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya said that, “We also expressed deep concern about China’s stepped-up attempts to silence dissent and tighten controls over Tibetans and Uighurs, emphasizing that policies ostensibly designed to maintain stability are counterproductive when they deny Chinese citizens their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also urged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions.”
She also said (imprisoned Tibetan film maker) Dhondup Wangchen was among the specific cases raised with the Chinese delegation.
These talks, held annually since 2008, were the first human rights dialogue since Xi Jinping took power as leader of the People’s Republic of China. Recent weeks have witnessed the detention of several Chinese human rights activists and defenders, the shooting of unarmed Tibetans in Tawu, the sentencing of Tibetans in connection with self-immolations, and further restrictions on religious practice in eastern Tibet.
In advance of the recent bilateral dialogues, ICT has urged the State Department to:
- Request that the Chinese objectively investigate and prosecute those responsible for the shooting of Tibetans in Tawu during a celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday;
- Request to see evidence and charges against those convicted in connection with self-immolation, which ICT believes are politically motivated trials;
- Ask whether Tibetans are afforded equal access to courts and the legal process, including the ability to choose lawyers and have laws and proceedings printed in the Tibetan language;
- Ask for the release of key Tibetan political prisoners; and
- Insist on open access by U.S. diplomats and journalists to Tibetan areas.
“We look forward to hearing more details about the results of this dialogue, including any progress on steps that the Chinese may be expected to take in response to U.S. concerns,” said Todd Stein.