EU Presidency urged to make statement on Tibet

Wednesday, 5 September 2001

EU Presidency urged to make strong public statement of concern about Tibet as fourth EU/China summit is held in Brussels
Tibet campaigners dismiss Zhu Rongji's complaint that "there is more to China than human rights, Falun Gong and Tibet"

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji will face further protests by Tibet campaigners and members of the Tibetan community as he travels to Brussels today for the fourth EU/China summit. Zhu Rongji will meet Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Romano Prodi this afternoon, and take part in a joint press conference this evening. The Belgian government, which holds the Presidency of the European Union, has been deluged in recent weeks with emails and faxes from Tibet supporters calling for a strong public statement of concern about Tibet.

"Since the first EU/China summit in London three years ago, there has been a serious deterioration in human rights under Chinese rule." said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "This fact, plus the painful reality that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet, makes a robust public statement of concern by the European Union wholly justified."

The EU policy of dialogue on human rights and Tibet has failed to stem the deterioration. In recent months, Chinese authorities have crushed the religious community of Serthar in Sichuan Province and removed an eight year old incarnate lama from his monastery. A delegation of Polish Parliamentarians in Lhasa recently obtained, in response to their persistent demands, a promise of copies of photographs of the 11th Panchen Lama, who has been under house arrest since 1995. Despite it now being a year since the existence of these photographs became known, EU officials have failed to extract an undertaking that they would receive copies.

Zhu Rongji yesterday complained to journalists in Dublin that "there was more to China than human rights, Falun Gong and Tibet", failing to appreciate that it is China's failure to make progress on these issues that fuels international concern.

"Until the Chinese government can show that it is taking the concerns of the international community seriously, and commits to entering into unconditional negotiations with the Tibetan government in exile, its Ministers will continue to face questions and protests about human rights from the public." said Ms Reynolds.

For more information about activities in Brussels contact: Michel Vanherwegen, Les Amis du Tibet, mobile +32 (0) 478 651096
For more information on this press release, contact: Alison Reynolds, +44 (0)20 7833 9958, mobile +44 (0) 7711 843884