Coercive labour programmes in Tibet

Coercive labour programmes in Tibet

In September 2020, the Jamestown Foundation released a report revealing China’s large-scale programme of coercive labour in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Since January 2020, this programme has already forced over half a million rural Tibetans off their land into military-style training centres. The programme reportedly promotes racist assumptions about Tibetans’ ‘backwardness’, seeks to reduce the influence of Buddhism and forces Tibetans to abandon their traditional way of life under the pretext of poverty alleviation.

On 29 October 2020, fourteen cross national and cross party Members of the European Union (MEPs) Isabel Santos, Marisa Matias, Jose Gusmao, David Lega, Ausra Maldeikiene, Salima Yenbou, Carles Puigdemont i Casamajo, Antoni Comín i Oliveres, Clara Ponsatí Obiols, Raphael Glucksmann, Isabel Carvalhais, Alviina Alametsa, Hannes Heide and Miriam Lexmann tabled a parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell regarding their concerns for the Tibetan people and the repressive approach of the Chinese government.

The MEPs asked “does the EU condemn these coercive labour programmes, which violate the fundamental rights of Tibetans – including their right to freedom of movement and to their own livelihood?” and, in the framework of the EU‑China Human Rights Dialogue, “what measures does the EU intend to take in order to push China to respect its international human rights obligations?”

Lastly, the MEPs requested to know if the EU intends “to adopt targeted sanctions (visa bans, asset freezes etc.) against individuals responsible for the establishment of these programmes in Tibet?”

The European Commission has received numerous questions recently on China’s oppressive policies towards minority communities in the country and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is expected to reply in the coming weeks.

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