Open Letter to the EU Delegation to China on the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue
The latest round of theEU-China Dialogue on Human Rights will occur in Beijing on 16 June. The EU must stress that the Chinese CommunistParty govern their citizens in accordance with internationally recognised humanrights standards. The EU should not only raise the worsening human rightssituation in China with their Chinese counterparts but should also make astrong and public statement expressing their concerns. In May, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, made only passingreferences to human rights during his visit to China, failing even to expressconcern over the missing artist Ai Weiwei. The EU should not allow anothersignificant meeting to pass without calling the Chinese government to account.
Since February, the human rights situation inChina has worsened significantly. The Chinese government has directly andinstitutionally cracked down on civil and political liberties as well asrepressing economic, social and cultural rights in the following areas:
- Rights to freedom of religion, expression and assembly: The Chinese regime continues to quash dissents and suppress basic civil rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of religion. In March, following peaceful protests at Kirti monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, two Tibetans died from injuries sustained from beatings by police and over 300 monks were forcibly detained and remain missing. For more details on the situation at Kirti see: http://www.tibetsociety.com/content/view/169
- Workers’ rights: The Chinese government continues to restrict the rights of workers such as the formation of independent unions and striking. China is a member of the International Labour Organization, but it fails to satisfy its international obligations. See imprisoned workers’ cases: http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/100014
- Environmental protection: Chinese officials continue to prize economic growth and “stability” over protecting the environment. When environmental NGOs or activists challenge polluting businesses, corrupt local officials or government policy, they often find themselves the victims of persecution. See Karma Samdrup’s case and Tan Zouren’s case, https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784
- Land and housing rights: Farmers and nomads are struggling as their land is increasingly being unlawfully expropriated by local governments and developers eager for quick, sizeable profits. In the cities, officials continue to infringe upon the housing rights and other basic rights of countless Chinese citizens through abuses related to forced evictions and demolitions. The authorities have grabbed farmland, destroyed grassland and forced evictions, which has even resulted in deaths of those trying to protect their livlihoods. For example, on 10 May, Mergen, a Mongolian herder, was killed whilst trying to block a vehicle during a protest. Activists who organize farmers, nomads and rural residents to stand up for their land rights are routinely harassed or imprisoned. In recent weeks over 90 students, herders and ordinary residents have been arrested in Inner Mongolia during protests since Mergen’s death. For more on Inner Mongolia protests see http://bit.ly/AFPmon
- Rights lawyers and legal advocates: Numerous rights lawyers and legal advocates are currently being held by government authorities and more are forced into silence during the recent clampdown. See https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7785
- Prisoners of conscience: Since the crackdown in February the number of Tibetan, Uighur and Chinese prisoners of conscience has increased. However, for the vast majority there is no news of their location or well-being. Many are feared to be subject to torture. See https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784
- Death penalty: The Chinese regime continues to execute more people than any other country. The Chinese government should be called upon to instigate an immediate moratorium on executions, in part due to the lack of independent courts and fair trials, in accordance with international law.
- Arbitrary detention: Every year, tens of thousands of petitioners and dissidents are imprisoned in detention facilities, psychiatric facilities or sent to Re-education through Labor. Those who are detained include: those who complain about injustices such as lack of labor protection, land and housing rights; those who publicly protest such as teachers, veterans and bank employees; victims of pollution; and parents whose children were poisoned by dairy products or died in school buildings that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. The Chinese government must be called upon to abolish Re-education through Labor, “law education classes” and the system of intercepting petitioners (jie fang).
- Forced disappearances: Enforced disappearances has become one of the most repressive mechanisms by Chinese regime. Thousands of people have ‘disappeared’ since February. As well as raising the issue in general, the EU delegation should also raise the individual cases of Hada (哈达), Hada’s wife Xinna (新娜), Chen Guangcheng （ 陈光诚）, Chen’s wife Yuan Weijing (袁伟静), Gao Zhisheng （高智晟）, Liu Xiaobo （刘晓波）, Liu’s wife Liu Xia (刘霞), Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and the 300 Kirti monks. See https://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs_entry.asp?eid=7784 and http://www.tibetsociety.com/content/view/169
We therefore urgethat EU representatives attending the Dialogue to:
· strongly supporthuman rights defenders and civil society in general, during the talks. The raisingof cases with the Chinese government remains an important advocacy tool. Pastexperience has shown that conditions for political prisoners often improve oncetheir cases have been raised, even if they are not released.
· make robustand clear public statements during the next few days, and whilst in Beijing,about the cases and issues they have raised and the Chinese government’sresponse.
· resolutelypush for openness to the media, both for themselves and their Chinesecounterparts.
· take anyopportunity they can to speak directly to the people under CCP rule, withoutcensorship or diluting their own message. For example, through online socialmedia or through hosting forums at EU consulates in China.
Finally, the EUas a democratic union must play a more pro-active and positive role in protectinghuman rights and upholding justice within its relationship with China. The ChineseCommunist Party (CCP) has no electoral mandate, thereby it has no authority orcredibility to represent the people under its rule, or to represent China as amember of the United Nations. Ignoring the suffering of millions of peopleunder CCP rule and sacrificing human rights for the expense of short-termeconomic gains will only give the CCP an open license to continue their abhorrentpractices. This will inevitably lead to further human rights abuses not only inChina but around the world.
It is time tostand up and speak out to protect all peoples’ indivisible and unalienablehuman and civil rights.
Philippa Carrick,CEO Tibet Society
SHAO Jiang, StudentActivist
Enver Tohti, Chairman of the Uighur UK Association
Dr. Stephen NG, Chinese Solidarity Campaign
WONG Sum-Lung, PhD student, Department of Philosophy, University of Essex
Lucy Jin, coordinate for the Federation for A Democratic China (UK)
Paul Golding: 44 (0)7984799958
SHAO Jiang: 44 (0)7961948852
Enver Tohti: 44 (0) 7950674306
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