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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Answer to written question on Human rights violations and self-immolations in Tibet

June 25, 2012

Subject: Answer to written question on Human rights violations and self-immolations in Tibet

Date published: June 1 2012


Question for written answer E-001360/2012 to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative)- rule 117 - Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE)

Subject: VP/HR - Human rights violations and self-immolations in Tibet
Since March 2011, twelve young Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest against repression by the Chinese authorities in Tibet. The Chinese authorities have tightened their control over religious life and practices in Tibet, particularly through 'patriotic education' campaigns and the permanent presence of Chinese authorities in monasteries, intensive and heightened surveillance, arbitrary arrests, the disappearance of Tibetans, the imprisonment of families and friends of Tibetans who have set fire to themselves, and deadly clashes with Chinese police forces during demonstrations.
Can the Vice-President/High Representative respond fully to the following questions:
1.   The European Union has imposed sanctions for human rights violations in countries like Myanmar and Zimbabwe, but has not taken any steps to condemn the Chinese repression in Tibet. Why such an imbalance in sanctions?
2.   Does the Vice-President/High Representative intend to issue a public statement or take steps to call on  the Chinese authorities to put an end to repression in the areas of Ngaba, Kardze and Chamdo; withdraw military troops from these areas and the monasteries; authorise all monks to return to their respective monasteries without any conditions attached; release those who have been arrested in relation to these self-immolations; and authorise foreign diplomats and independent foreign media to gain unhindered access to all regions of Tibet?
3.   As dialogue has until now been the European Union's favoured approach in its relationship with China, to what extent is the human rights issue raised during the regular political dialogues on foreign policy matters between the Vice-President/High Representative and the Chinese State Councillor responsible for foreign affairs? As the second session of the EU-China dialogue did not take place in 2011, has a schedule been set for 2012? Also, have attempts been made to develop projects under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) in Tibet?
4.   The European Union can offer reduced import tariffs in order to encourage countries that respect minimal basic standards and norms regarding working conditions set by the International Labour Organisation. Why have unfavourable import tariffs not been considered for countries, like China, which violate the basic rights of its citizens and the Tibetan minority?
Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Ashton on behalf of the Commission

The High Representative/Vice President is deeply concerned at the distressing events in the Tibetan areas. The EU Delegation to China has made two demarches to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing its profound concern at the series of self-immolations. The EU has urged the Chinese authorities to refrain from the use of force, to allow the Tibetan people to exercise their religious, linguistic and cultural rights and to address the root causes of the self-immolations, in particular the lack of genuine participation by the Tibetan population in the development policy of the region.

The EU raised these concerns at the EU-China Summit on 14 February 2012 and at the UN Human Rights Council on 6 March 2012. It has asked to visit the Tibetan regions in an unrestricted way but this request has been refused. The EU will continue to urge the Chinese authorities to improve the human rights situation in Tibet and to resume their dialogue with the Envoys of the Dalai Lama.

NGOs working in Tibet may submit applications for support from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The European External Action Service (EEAS) has assured all applicants that their applications will be handled in confidence, so cannot provide any information on EIDHR projects. The Commission proposes to allocate a new budget to support human rights projects under the EIDHR Country Based Support Schemes from 2013.

Raising import tariffs is a trade restriction and must be done in compliance with WTO rules, including non-discrimination and proportionality. When considering trade measures to address human rights violations, the question of whether the measures are likely to improve the human rights situation in practice is relevant. The Commission favours a policy of engagement with China on human rights issues over the imposition of restrictive measures.
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