Tibet Supporters to protest at Downing Street during visit of Premier Wen
[LONDON] Tony Blair will meet Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, at Downing Street tomorrow for talks focussing on Britain's relations with China. In his recent meetings with Chinese leaders Tony Blair has conspicuously failed to make any public statement on human rights and Tibet, despite strong public concern which led to hundreds of demonstrators protesting in London last year during President Hu Jintao's State Visit.
"By refusing to make public statements of concern for Tibet and human rights in China, Blair has allowed himself to be censored by China on some of the most critical issues affecting the overall China-Britain relationship," said Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign. "As he nears the end of his premiership, the Prime Minister must amend for his previous silence on Tibet and human rights and vigorously address with Premier Wen the issues that matter: systematic torture of political prisoners (1); the intensified crackdown on the freedom of religion in Tibet (2) and the recent announcement by Xinhua that access to foreign news is to be restricted still further in China." (3)
In letters to Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and Foreign Office Minister, Ian McCartney, Free Tibet Campaign noted that, despite the conclusion of a fifth round of talks between the Chinese Government and envoys of the Dalai Lama, little substantive progress had been made and that one of the envoys, Lodi Gyari had commented that "there is a fundamental difference even in the approach in addressing the issue." The letter continued that "it is therefore time for the British Government to reassess the sincerity of the Chinese approach to the talks and to reapply pressure on the highest levels of the Chinese Government."
Free Tibet's call for pressure was echoed in a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report published 13 August 2006 which recommended: "that the Government continue to raise human rights at the highest levels with Chinese counterpartsand do not flinch from making public statements where appropriate."
Contact: 020 7324 4605 , Matt Whitticase (07904 063 746) Ya'el Weisz-Rind (07733 393 773)
Free Tibet Campaigners will be protesting outside Downing Street from 8.30am on Wednesday 13 September.
Notes to editor:
Following a historic trip to China in 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr Manfred Nowak, reported in March 2006 that "torture remains widespread" in China.
In late 2005 China intensified its crackdown on freedom of religion in Tibet. Its "patriotic re-education" programme was re-launched in monasteries and nunneries, seeking to monitor activities there and to break monks' and nuns' allegiance to the Dalai Lama. There were reports of disturbances at the larger monasteries, Drepung and Sera.
In the last year the Chinese leadership has drastically curtailed media freedoms in China. Journalists have been harassed and arrested, tens of thousands employed to police internet use and new legislation drafted to criminalise all publications deemed not to be in the national interest. The Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing has received reports of 72 incidents of harassment of journalists from 15 countries. And last Sunday China announced through Xinhua, the official state media outlet, tough new restrictions on the distribution of foreign news inside China. Western companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all facilitated such restrictions. Earlier this year Google agreed to censor its searches of politically sensitive information.