11/30/2009, 00.00
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Tibetan activists in Europe urge EU not to forget human rights

The European Union should use its economic weight in the current China-EU summit in Nanjing to demand greater respect for human rights in China, NGO urges. Free Tibet group says Europeans should have a “new position” vis-à-vis China.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – The European Union “is failing to exploit its status as China’s largest trading partner to pressure China on human rights,” Free Tibet said in a press release. A new position is required from EU member states, the NGO said on the occasion of this year’s EU-China summit. Human Rights Watch also wants the EU to follow up its many statements on human rights with actions that put them at the top of its diplomacy.

“The recent appointment of both a President and Foreign Policy chief for the EU creates a timely opportunity for a radical re-think within the EU on its strategy for engaging China on human rights and Tibet,” the group statement said.

“Free Tibet considers that such a strategy should incorporate a new, EU-wide position on Tibet which more accurately reflects the importance of Tibet within overall EU-China relations.”

Similarly, “Until now the EU has shown reluctance to take a strong, public and concerted position on China’s worsening human rights violations in Tibet. Following the last summit in May the EU and China issued a detailed and lengthy joint communiqué, which inexplicably failed to mention even human rights. And in advance of next Monday’s summit, the EU and China staged a low-profile and little-noticed dialogue on human rights on November 20.”

If the Europeans truly care about the situation in Tibet, they should appoint an “EU special representative for Tibet responsible for co-ordinating national policies on Tibet.” They should also push for “Regular and concerted promotion of the resumption of substantive dialogue, without pre-conditions, between China and representatives of the Tibetan people”.

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, is even more critical. For her, whilst the European Union might say that human rights are a priority, it has gradually dropped them from its agenda. Ultimately, Brussels is at fault if China has the time and means to commit so many violations of its own citizens.

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