Miliband urged to be as strong on Tibet as on Burma and Zimbabwe

Monday, 25 February 2008

Free Tibet Campaign has written to David Miliband in advance of his first trip to China as Foreign Secretary this week. The letter(1) condemns the British government for its ongoing failure to criticize publicly the Chinese leadership for ongoing and worsening human rights violations in Tibet and China. Noting, in contrast, the strong public concern displayed by the British government for human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and Burma, the letter states:

"Sadly, such concern has not been shown for the systematic repression and abuses of human rights in China and Tibet. The Prime Minister's public silence on human rights during his recent trip to China indicated that British policy remains unchanged, despite a human rights situation in Tibet which the Dalai Lama, in a recent interview with ITV, characterized as "definitely worse" since the Olympic Games were awarded to Beijing in 2001."

The letter also refers the Foreign Secretary to a statement made to the UK Parliament in March 2007 by then Foreign Office Minister Ian McCartney. McCartney's statement said that the Dalai Lama, during his scheduled visit to Britain in May 2008, "could... have discussions about a range of issues with senior Ministers, including the Prime Minister." Noting recent high-profile meetings between the Dalai Lama and US President George Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then Australian Prime Minister John Howard (all leaders of countries with significant trade relations with China) the letter calls on Miliband to demonstrate similar defiance of China's threats about meetings with the Dalai Lama and states that a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Dalai Lama should be announced as soon as possible.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said: "The Prime Minister's silence on human rights during his recent trip to China was shameful. Since then China's human rights abuses in Tibet, Darfur and China have been put under intense media scrutiny for all to see: Miliband must not, for reasons of commercial expediency, continue to ignore the Chinese government's worsening human rights record. Instead he must make an unequivocal and robust statement that China's violations of the basic rights of Tibetans and its own citizens can no longer be tolerated." (1) The full version of the letter to David Miliband is available on request

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign


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