23 October 2015, Brussels – An exchange of views on the human rights situation in Tibet was held yesterday in Brussels by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI).
Keynote speakers of the panel were Marie Holzman, sinologist, independent journalist and President of the French association Solidarité Chine, Lobsang Tsering, one of the cousins of the late popular monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Vincent Metten, EU’s Policy Director for the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and a French academic expert on contemporary Tibetan culture.
They highlighted the dire situation for human rights in Tibet, including restrictions on freedom of expression, self-immolations, arbitrary detention and torture, but also described the astonishing cultural resilience demonstrated by the Tibetans despite the many obstacles facing them.
ICT’s Vincent Metten said “Today, a younger generation of Tibetans is paying a high price with their lives for peaceful expression of views in a political climate in which almost any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can be characterized as ‘reactionary’ or ‘splittist’, and therefore ‘criminal’. But even despite the intensified dangers, Tibetans are continuing to take bold steps in asserting their national identity and defending their culture.”
He also called on the European Union to counterbalance the “divide and conquer” strategy used by China in Europe by increasing the coordination among its Member States on Tibet and human rights in China, as well as supporting international cooperation with like-minded countries such as US, Canada and Japan.
A representative of the European External Action Service acknowledged that the human rights situation in China was very poor and kept deteriorating. She recognized that the human rights dialogue with China was an unpleasant and frustrating exercise with very few concrete outcomes, but insisted that it should nevertheless continue. The EU shares experience with other countries holding human rights dialogues with China but she admitted: “we are all failing collectively to improve the human rights situation in China”.
This exchange of views took place a few weeks ahead of a visit to China of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambridinis (who visited Tibet in 2013), and of the 34th round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which are both scheduled for next November.
A video recording of the hearing is available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20151022-0900-COMMITTEE-DROI