CM/AS(2008)Quest544 prov 29 August 20081
1034 Meeting, 11 September 2008
3 Parliamentary Assembly
3.1 Written Questions by members of the Parliamentary Assembly to the Committee of Ministers
d. Written Question No. 544 by Mrs Acketoft : “Europe’s response to China’s human rights violations in Tibet”
With just six months to go to the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese Government is continuing its human rights abuses. During the past weeks, the most obvious violations have occurred in Tibet.
Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1949, more that 150 000 Tibetans have fled their native country and it is estimated that 3 000 Tibetans flee across the Himalayas every year in search of a freer life. In addition to the perils of death or severe frostbite, they risk torture and imprisonment if caught by the Chinese military. The Chinese regime has constantly limited the Tibetans’ right to practice their religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It is also highly disputable whether any of the natural resources that are harvested by the Government actually benefit the Tibetans.
The current abuses are probably the worst in a long time, but China has a longstanding record of violations against the Tibetan community.
On 10 March, it was reported that a group of demonstraters, mainly monks, were injured and taken into custody in central Lhasa. The purpose of the demonstration was to mark the 49th anniversary of the Dalai Lhama’s flight from Tibet. On 11 March, according to eyewitnesses and media, the Chinese police used teargas and electrical prods to break up a group that was demanding the release of monks who had been arrested earlier.
Amnesty International, among others, has severely condemned these breaches of human rights. Demonstrators have the right to peaceful gatherings and protests. China is breaking international human right law by denying the Tibetans their right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
It is high time for the rest of the world to mark – strongly – that the recent events in Tibet are unacceptable. Members of the world community must recognise that human rights are universal.
I therefore ask whether the Committee of Ministers agrees that the actions of the Chinese authorities represent an infringement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights.
Within the Council of Europe’s mandate to protect human rights, how does the Committee of Ministers plan to act in order to ensure that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is followed by the Chinese Government?
As China is neither a member of, nor has observer status with, the Council of Europe, it is at the worldwide level that the issue of respect for human rights by this country must be raised. In this respect, a concerted approach by all member states, particularly in the United Nations framework, in order to speak with one voice in favour of such respect, would certainly be an effective means of action. The annual exchanges of views organised under the auspices of the Committee of Ministers with experts from the capitals of the member states, covering human rights-related matters dealt with at the United Nations, offer a forum for such consultations. The Committee of Ministers can only encourage member states to use this platform for the universal defence and furtherance of human rights worldwide, in line with the action carried out by the Organisation on the European continent.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.