News and Views on Tibet

EU hits China for human rights abuses at U.N. talks

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GENEVA, April 1 – The European Union on Tuesday expressed concern at China’s “extensive use” of the deathpenalty and said that torture, arbitrary arrests and religiousrepression were widespread.

The EU statement, read out by Greece’s ambassador TassosKriekoukis to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights,also cited concerns over executions in countries includingIndonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

It followed the U.S. State Department’s annual human rightsreport on Monday, which accused China of violations includingsummary executions, torture, forced confessions, suppressingpolitical dissent and denying religious freedom.

But the New York-based group Human Rights Watch criticisedboth powers for their apparent unwillingness to present aresolution criticising China, seemingly because of its backingfor the international campaign against terrorism.

The 53-member state forum is now mid-way through its annualsix-week session in Geneva.

The EU cited “some positive developments” in China,including its continued engagement with the internationalcommunity, reforms in the rule of law, and release of severalhigh-profile Tibetan political prisoners.

But the EU remained troubled by “the extensive use of thedeath penalty, the continuation of the ‘strike-hard’ campaign,the widespread use of torture and arbitrary detention, includingthe practice of ‘re-education through labour’,” Kriekoukis said.

Other EU concerns in China were: “repression of the freedomof expression, religion and association with the ongoingviolations of the human rights of pro-democracy, labour andInternet activists, proponents of free trade unions andfollowers of underground Christian churches and the Falun Gong”.

The EU echoed activists’ concerns about alleged repressionof cultural and religious freedoms in Tibet and a clampdown tocrush political dissent in the northwestern region of Xinjiang,which has a large ethnic Uighur Muslim population.

“Equally disturbing is the deprivation of religious andcultural rights in Tibet, as well as the violation of humanrights in Xinjiang, fanned by the intensification of the’strike-hard’ campaign and often under the cloak of the fightagainst terrorism”,” the EU said.

On Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the UnitedStates had not yet decided whether to back a resolution againstChina. The 15-member EU does not plan to bring a resolution,according to diplomatic sources.

“No government appears willing to table a resolutioncritical of China, thanks especially to Chinese support for theinternational campaign against terrorism,” Human Rights Watchsaid in a statement issued in Geneva on Tuesday.

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