by melanie.blondelle | December 15, 2016 3:30 pm
Brussels, 15 December 2016 – The European Parliament today adopted an urgency resolution on breaches of human rights, democracy, and rule of law in China, in which it urged the Chinese authorities to stop the dismantling at Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist academy.
This resolution follows the September visit of the Dalai Lama to the European Parliament where he met former President Schulz and addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee in Strasbourg calling on Europe to engage in ‘constructive criticism’ of China.
In the resolution, Members of the European Parliament expressed their concerns at the increasingly repressive policies faced by Tibetans and pressed the Chinese government to respect both its national and international commitments in the field of human rights. They also called on China to resume the dialogue with Tibetan representatives, which has been stalled since January 2010, “in order to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis in Tibet”.
Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director at ICT said: “This robust EP urgency resolution reminds Chinese authorities about their obligation to respect national and International obligations in the field of human rights, in particular when it comes to need to respect freedom of religion and believes in Tibet. We also welcome the stand adopted by the Parliament deploring the absence of the 35th of the EU-China Human rights dialogue in 2016 – it creates a serious and inappropriate precedent which should be addressed vigorously and publicly by the EU.”
During the debate, MEP Jo Leinen (Germany, S&D) recalled that in China, although fundamental rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, the reality on the ground is completely different, as China has put in place an increasingly suppressive system affecting minorities. Jo Leinen, who is also the Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China, referred in particular to a package of new laws, including on counter-terrorism, which have been used by the Chinese authorities to further restrict the space for civil society and religious communities in the country.
The Chairman of the Tibet Interest Group in the European Parliament, MEP Thomas Mann (Germany, EPP) added that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and called on China to stop the arbitrary detentions, forced relocations and so-called patriotic re-education of Tibetans, as it wipes out their cultural identity.
MEP Cristian Dan Preda (Romania, EPP) also regretted that the human rights dialogue between the EU and China, which was initiated in 1996, did not take place this year, despite the many issues that would need to be discussed within this mechanism.
The resolution also referred to the situation of the Uyghur people and MEPs called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti, a Beijing-based Uyghur scholar sentenced to life after being charged with separatism-related offences, and one of the four 2016 Sakharov prize nominees.
Closing the discussion, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said: “The European Union has continued to emphasize to China the importance of fostering dialogue with and between different ethnic groups, and in the case of Tibet, of resuming a meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. The demolitions at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, the expulsion and so-called patriotic reeducation of monastic individuals are a matter of considerable concern to us. According to the Chinese authorities, the demolitions are for health and safety reasons; however, the religious leaders and the monks and nuns concerned were not consulted. The lack of information, dialogue, and the restrictions of access to Larung Gar and on the movement of nuns and monks in the area has been causing much distress in the community and have even prompted suicides. The European Union underlines that while safety and health concerns may be legitimate, they should not be used as a pretext of repression or forced displacement of religious adherents.”
Below is the full text of the resolution, also accessible here.
The European Parliament,
A. whereas the promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law should remain at the centre the long-standing partnership between the EU and China, in line with the EU’s commitment to uphold these values in its external action and China’s expressed interest in adhering to these same values in its own development and international cooperation;
B. whereas, in its development objectives, the Chinese Government has indicated that it is seeking a greater role in addressing global challenges, such as international peace and security and climate change, and increased influence over both political and economic global governance, and has committed to strengthening the rule of law;
C. whereas the 17th EU-China Summit of 29 June 2015 lifted bilateral relations to a new level, and whereas in its strategic framework on human rights and democracy the EU pledges that it will place human rights at the centre of its relations with all third countries, including its strategic partners; whereas the 18th EU-China Summit of 12-13 July 2016 concluded that another round of the human rights dialogue between EU and China would be held still in 2016;
D. whereas China has made progress over the last decades in the realisation of economic and social rights, reflecting its stated priorities regarding people’s rights to subsistence and development, but its achievements in the area of political and civil rights, together with the promotion of human rights, are limited;
E. whereas, during 34th EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights held in Beijing on 2 December 2015, the EU raised its concerns about respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang, and about respect for freedom of religion or belief; whereas the case of Ilham Tohti was discussed during the 34th EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights;
F. whereas the Larung Gar Institute, the largest Tibetan Buddhist centre in the world founded in 1980, is currently facing extensive demolition by the Chinese Government with the objective of downsizing the academy by fifty percent, evicting around 4 600 residents by force and destroying around 1 500 dwellings; whereas according to the Chinese authorities this demolition is necessary in order to carry out ‘correction and rectification’;
G. whereas the evictees are to be forcibly enrolled in so-called ‘patriotic education’ exercises; whereas three nuns at the academy committed suicide in protest at the ongoing large-scale demolitions at Larung Gar;
H. whereas an extremely high number of Tibetans, mostly monks and nuns, have reportedly set themselves on fire since 2009 in protest against restrictive Chinese policies in Tibet and in support of the return of the Dalai Lama and the right to religious freedom in the Aba/Ngaba county prefecture in Sichuan Province and other parts of the Tibetan plateau;
I. whereas envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama have approached the Government of the People’s Republic of China to find a mutually beneficial solution to the issue of Tibet; whereas no progress has been made in the resolution of the Tibetan crisis in the last few years, as the last round of talks took place in 2010 and the negotiations are currently frozen;
J. whereas the Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment on 23 September 2014 on the charge of alleged separatism after being arrested in January of the same year; whereas seven of his former students were also detained and condemned to prison sentences of between three and eight years for alleged collaboration with Mr Tohti;
K. whereas there are allegations that the due process of law was not respected, in particular with regard to the right to a proper defence;
L. whereas the Xinjiang region, in which the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority is mainly located, has experienced repeated outbreaks of ethnic unrest and violence; whereas Ilham Tohti has always rejected separatism and violence and sought reconciliation based on respect for Uighur culture;
1. Urges the Chinese authorities to stop the demolition of Larung Gar and the eviction of its residents, and in this way to respect the freedom of religion in accordance with its international commitments in the field of human rights;
2. Calls on the Chinese authorities to initiate a dialogue and to engage constructively on developments in Larung Gar with the local community and its religious leaders, and to address concerns regarding overcrowded religious institutes by allowing Tibetans to establish more institutes and build more facilities; calls for adequate compensation and the re-housing of Tibetans who have been evicted during the demolitions in Larung Gar at the place of their choice to continue their religious activities;
3. Deplores the sentencing of ten Tibetans by the Intermediate People’s Court in Barkham to different terms ranging from 5 to 14 years in prison for taking part in an 80th birthday celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lana in Ngaba County;
4. Is deeply concerned by the deterioration of the human rights situation in Tibet which has led to an increase in the number of self-immolation cases; criticises the increase in military displays on the Tibetan plateau that will only lead to escalating tension in the region; condemns the increase in the use of surveillance systems in Tibetan private households;
5. Is worried about the increasingly repressive regime faced by different minorities, in particular Tibetans and Uighurs, as additional constraints are put on the constitutional guarantees of their right to freedom of cultural expression and religious belief, and to the freedom of speech and expression, peaceful assembly and association, calling into question China’s stated commitment to the rule of law and respect for international obligations; demands that the authorities respect these fundamental freedoms;
6. Is worried about the adoption of the package of security laws and its impact on minorities in China, particularly the law on counter-terrorism that could lead to the penalisation of peaceful expression of Tibetan culture and religion and the law on the management of international NGOs which will come into effect on 1 January 2017 and will place human rights groups under the strict control of the government, as this constitutes a strictly top-down approach instead of encouraging partnership between local and central government and civil society;
7. Urges the Chinese Government to amend the provisions in the security law package that narrow the space for civil society organisations and tighten government control over religious practices; calls on the Chinese Government to provide and guarantee a fair and safe environment for all NGOs and human rights defenders to operate freely in the country, which could greatly complement the state delivery of social services with a bottom-up approach and contribute to the advancement of social and economic, political and civil rights;
8. Calls on the Chinese Government to resume the dialogue with Tibetan representatives, which was ended by China in 2010, in order to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis in Tibet; calls for respect for the freedoms of expression, association and religion of the Tibetan people as enshrined in the Constitution; believes that respect for minority rights is a key element of democracy and the rule of law that is indispensable for political stability;
9. Strongly condemns the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti who is serving a life sentence on alleged charges of separatism; deplores the fact that the due process of law was not respected and that he did not benefit from the right to a proper defence; urges the Chinese authorities to respect the norm of granting one visit per month for family members;
10. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti and of his supporters detained in relation to his case; further calls for Ilham Tohti’s teaching permit to be restored and for his free movement to be guaranteed within and outside China;
11. Recalls the importance of the EU raising the issue of human rights violations in China, in particular the case of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, at every political and human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities, in line with the EU’s commitment to project a strong, clear and unified voice in its approach to the country, including the yearly Human Rights Dialogues; further points out that, as part of its ongoing reform process and increasing global engagement, China has opted into the international human rights framework by signing up to a wide range of international human rights treaties, and therefore calls for dialogue to be pursued with China to live up to these commitments;
12. Deplores the fact that the 35th round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue will probably not take place before the end of 2016, as agreed; urges the Chinese Government to agree to a high-level dialogue in the first weeks of 2017;
13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and the Parliament of the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Source URL: http://www.tibetpolicy.eu/ict-welcomes-european-parliament-urgency-resolution-on-larung-gar-demolitions-and-ilham-tohti/
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