DHARAMSHALA, June 1: The European Union has raised concerns over the rights of the Tibetan people with the People’s Republic of China at the recently concluded EU-China Human Rights Dialogue on May 29 in Brussels.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the EU said that the European side raised a number of issues of concern within China, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, notably Tibetans, Uighurs and Christians.
The statement said that the 31st round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue “allowed a wide-ranging and frank exchange of views on human rights between the two sides.”
“Under the general topic of criminal punishment and deprivation of liberty, China and the EU discussed issues such as residential surveillance and arrest, house arrest, treatment of petitioners, detention in prisons and solitary confinement.”
In the statement, EU reiterated its wish to continue holding the dialogue twice each year, and also expressed disappointment that China had not agreed to a second session of the dialogue in 2010 and 2011.
In 2010, China, furious over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, had cancelled the dialogue which are held twice a year. Last year also China had called off the meeting in December at the last minute.
Although the EU-China Human Rights Dialogues have been going on since 1995, human rights groups have criticised Europe’s lack of forcefulness on human rights, claiming that the dialogues allow China to give the appearance of engagement while effectively marginalising the issue.
Human Rights Watch has said that the dialogues look “great on paper” but lacks “transparency.”
“There are no benchmarks and no opportunities for public input or oversight,” the NGO’s rapporteur on China, Phelim Kine, has been quoted as saying by the EUobserver. “The talks are used as a public relations exercise that allow the EU to isolate human rights issues from other top-level negotiations.”
The global right group has been pressing EU to set “clear and public benchmarks” for progress on human rights in China.
"From the Chinese government's perspective, these human rights dialogues are a means to limit and isolate any discussion about its dismal human rights record at relatively low diplomatic levels," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The EU has gone along with the script, largely treating the dialogues as business-as-usual talk shops, despite the Chinese government's escalating crackdowns, detentions, and disappearances of activists."