EU Member States must raise Tibet at next EU-China Summit

(Brussels, 26 June 2015) – Ahead of the next EU-China Summit, starting on 29 June in Brussels, EU Member States must reach a common position on human rights concerns in Tibet and raise them with the Chinese government during this exchange. The Tibetan community in Belgium will mark this event with a demonstration at Schuman Roundabout in Brussels at 12:30.

“The lack of coordination among Member States in dealing with China on human rights issues, particularly in Tibet, is of great concern to us,” said Vincent Metten, ICT’s EU Policy Director. Today, China and the EU are key partners in many areas and we greatly value this important diplomatic relationship. However, the EU should no longer tolerate the gross human rights violations occurring in China and Tibet on a daily basis, which will now be legitimized by Chinese law.”

As a matter of fact, the two draft laws on counter-terrorism and NGOs currently under discussion in China constitute a further and more serious threat to violations of freedom of religion, expression, assembly and association, and deepen repression in an already restrictive political climate. The vague and broad definitions of “terrorism” and “terrorist activities” as well as the conflation of “terrorism” with religious “extremism” in the law give scope for the penalization of almost any peaceful expressions of Tibetan identity, acts of non-violent dissent, criticism of ethnic or religious policies or religious activities carried out outside state-controlled institutions. Similarly, the draft “Overseas NGO Management law” would inevitably shrink the space for Chinese and Tibetan civil society and severely restrict civil and political rights in the country.

Moreover, legal measures criminalizing self-immolations in Tibet have already been passed and implemented. At least 98 Tibetans have been sentenced under such measures leading to charges of up to “intentional homicide” for having allegedly “incited” self-immolations or being “associated” with them, punishing families, friends and even entire communities of self-immolators. These measures are a blatant violation of international law, which prohibits collective punishment.

During the next EU-China Summit, these laws and the ongoing human rights abuses in China and Tibet need to be at the forefront of the agenda and EU Member States must be united in addressing these issues as a matter of priority for the achievement of serious and stable EU-China relations.

The start of the Summit will be marked by a demonstration organized by the Tibetan community in Belgium to protest against Chinese repressive and discriminatory measures in Tibet to be held on 29 June at Schuman Roundabout, and by an exhibition on the life of the Dalai Lama, which will be opened on 30 June in the European Parliament.