Sunday 6 March 2011

UK groups urge Cameron for robust approach on human rights

Phayul[Friday, March 04, 2011 07:35]
By Kalsang Rinchen

Bangalore, March 3 - Thirteen organizations based in the United Kingdom have issued a joint statement on the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue held on January 13 – 14. The organizations which include 6 Tibet related groups called for the UK government to review ways in which the dialogue can meaningfully make progress and sought the UK government’s attention to “deep-seated concerns held on the 19th round of annual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue.

While lauding the UK government’s “very robust” approach to the recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya, Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, one of the 13 signatories to the statement, said the UK government must not forget to scrutinize China’s human rights record and its adherence to internationally accepted human rights norms and its upholding of the rule of law.

The rights groups said that the annual human rights dialogues have become an all-too familiar and empty ritual that ultimately are not resulting in positive change on the ground. “Worse, they can even be counter-productive in that they allow the Chinese government to claim an “achievement” on human rights when in fact no progress has been made,” the statement said.

The groups said that the human rights situation in China and Tibet has actually deteriorated after a generation of economic development and numerous rounds of similar human rights dialogues with countries including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, as well as with the EU.

“We support engagement with China, but believe that it is time for a new and more robust approach together with other dialogue partners based on achieving real, short-term goals.”

Despite millions of pounds of assistance to promote ‘rule of law’ in China, the Chinese government has engaged in a systematic attack on the rule of law and civil society by developing the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship system, intensifying religious repression particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang, and characterizing as “criminals” two prominent Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Dalai Lama and Liu Xiaobo, the groups further said in the statement.

The groups recommended the government of UK hold transparent dialogue saying opacity in dialogue processes has enabled the Chinese authorities to misrepresent the process and to undermine essential follow-up of discussions that took place behind closed doors. “The dialogue should involve participation with expert NGOs and representatives from civil society and, ideally, also with representatives of the Tibetan and Uyghur communities in exile,” they wrote.

The groups welcomed the UK government’s affirmation of the importance of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government but expressed disappointment at the Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to strongly raise the coalition government’s position on the issue during his visit to China on 8-11 November 2010. 

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