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European leaders must raise Tibet at ASEM

October 24, 2008

International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
October 23, 2008

Brussels - In the course of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing
this week, European Union leaders must press Chinese President Hu
Jintao for tangible results from the dialogue between the Dalai
Lama's representatives and Chinese officials. The 7th Asia-Europe
summit, beginning on Friday and coordinated this year by Beijing,
convenes in advance of the expected next round of Sino-Tibetan
dialogue and at a time of severe repression against peaceful dissent in Tibet.

 From March onwards, protests across the Tibetan plateau pointed to
the urgent need to resolve issues stemming from 50 years of Chinese
rule in Tibet, and in response, several European leaders, including
Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, had strongly urged
China's leader Hu Jintao to meet directly with the Dalai Lama for
discussions on Tibet.

Vincent Metten, Executive-Director of the International Campaign for
Tibet in Brussels, said: "At this critical juncture in relations
between Europe and China, real partnership can only be achieved if
built on international norms and principles, such as respect for
basic human rights and freedoms. Putting any discussion of Tibet
aside at ASEM because of Chinese sensitivities would run counter to
the ASEM agenda, which is to promote understanding and enhance
cooperation through dialogue. European heads of state as well as the
President of the European Commission should raise with the Chinese
leadership the ongoing repression in Tibet and the need for
substantial results of the next round of Sino-Tibetan dialogue which
is expected to be held soon."

In a new development this morning, European Parliamentarians have
awarded imprisoned Chinese dissident Hu Jia the most important human
rights award in the EU, the Sakharov Prize. Hu Jia was known for
speaking out in support of Tibet as well as other activism, and China
had already attempted to pressure the EU not to award him the prize.

According to a letter obtained by the Associated Press, Beijing's
ambassador to the EU, Song Zhe, warned last week that China's
relations with the 27-nation bloc would be seriously harmed if
HIV/AIDS activist and dissident Hu Jia wins the most important human
rights award in the EU. Hu Jia, who was sentenced to three and a half
years in jail in April, is a dissident who spoke out in favor of
religious freedom and autonomy in Tibet and chronicled the arrest and
harassment of other dissidents as well as campaigning for the rights
of HIV/AIDS patients. Hu Jia was also involved in environmental
campaigns to protect the Tibetan antelope (chiru).
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