MEP Edward McMillan-Scott
DHARAMSHALA, January 23: A senior member of the European Parliament has challenged China’s ambassador to the European Union to facilitate a fact-finding visit to Tibet by members of the EP.
This after Ambassador Wu Hailong encouraged more Europeans to visit Tibet and expressed concern at EU criticism of China over the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
UK member Edward McMillan-Scott, parliament vice-president for democracy and human rights, confronted Hailong to “back up his unfounded claim that 'Tibet is open to visitors from abroad' by facilitating an envoy of MEPs to Tibet, and allow us to organise our own fact-finding meetings without being shadowed by the same security forces that have been instrumental in the brutal crackdown on the freedoms of Tibetans.”
Since 2009, as many as 98 known Tibetans have set themselves on fire inside Tibet protesting China’s rule and demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
In an interview to theparliament.com, Hailong toed the official line and blamed “foreign forces” for being involved in the “secret planning, provocation, organisation and implementation” of the self-immolation protests.
However, McMillan-Scott, who was the first politician to visit Tibet after a three-year blackout in 1996, argued that Hailong’s comments served to show “why the levels of frustration felt by the Tibetan community are as high as they are.”
“China's totalitarian regime unashamedly denies any responsibility for the tragic self-immolations of nearly 100 Tibetans in protest at China's heavy-handed policies in Tibet and the forced exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama."
The UK MEP said the parliament's Tibet intergroup "continues to receive credible evidence that Tibetan culture, including the language, is being systematically wiped out by the Chinese regime."
"I am also convinced that Tibetan prisoners have been killed by the Beijing regime for body parts for transplant surgery, as have other religious groups who neither smoke nor drink, such as Uighurs and Falun Gong practitioners,” he added.
McMillan-Scott further called on the EU to appoint a special representative for Tibet.
In the interview, Hailong was also critical of EU’s censure of the Chinese government’s response to the crisis inside Tibet.
Last month, EU had expressed “profound sadness” over the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibet and urged Beijing to respect Tibetan rights
and allow free access to Tibet for diplomats and journalists.
“We are concerned by the restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity, which appear to be giving rise to a surge of discontent in the region,” High Representative, Catherine Ashton had said.
“While respecting China’s territorial integrity, the EU calls upon the Chinese authorities to address the deep-rooted causes of the frustration of the Tibetan people and ensure that their civil, political, economic and social and cultural rights are respected, including their right to enjoy their own culture, to practise their own religion and to use their own language.”
Last year, China also unceremoniously turned down
a request by Australian ambassador Frances Adamson to visit Tibet to “examine the reasons” for the self-immolations. Adamson had also requested the Chinese authorities to allow a visit by the Australian parliamentary delegation.