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International NGOs call on EU to raise human rights with Premier Li

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By Tenzin Monlam

DHARAMSHALA, May 31: A group of 16 international rights and advocacy groups called on the European Union (EU) to raise human rights issues ‘privately and publically’ with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is scheduled to visit the EU-China Summit in Brussels on June 1 and 2.

“While the greatest obstacles remains Chinese government intransigence, more than two decades of hesitant, formulaic EU approaches to human rights have done little to improve the situation in China,” the appeal stated while suggesting six steps needed to be taken to improve the rights situation in China, including resuming ‘dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives’ and to ‘immediately release all those arrested for engaging in peaceful support for the Dalai Lama.’

Keeping in mind the Chinese Premier’s meetings with high-ranking EU officials, the appeal also urged the EU leaders to use the occasion to present a unified front to promoting human rights in China.

Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), reminded the EU its pledge to ‘throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights’ at the highest level.

“EU leaders need to make good on their pledges and make human rights and the freeing of peaceful activists a top strategic priority in the EU’s relationship with China,” she said adding that failure to uphold the pledge would suggest that they were ‘window dressing aimed to make Europeans feel good about themselves – rather than a principled and consistent policy’.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) along with Amnesty International and Reporter Without Borders in a separate joint statement also called for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise human rights issues with Li, who will visit Berlin before leaving for Brussels.

The Tibetan Community in Belgium with Amnesty International, HRW, FIDH and ICT plan to demonstrations during Li’s visit to protest against China and also to urge EU to take a firm stand on the deteriorating human rights situation in China under Xi Jinping.

The 16 global NGOs who called on the EU includes HRW, Amnesty International, China Labour Bulletin, DEMAS, FIDH, Initiatives for China, ICT, the International Service for Human Rights, Freedom House, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Without Frontiers, World Organisation Against Torture, Reporters Without Borders, the Society for Threatened Peoples, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, and the World Uyghur Congress.

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