‘Ethnic Unity’ legislation — human rights of Tibetans in jeopardy

‘Ethnic Unity’ legislation — human rights of Tibetans in jeopardy

The International Campaign for Tibet recently revealed how the ‘ethnic unity’ legislation recently imposed on Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will further erode the fundamental liberties of Tibetans and infringe their human rights. Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Isabel Santos from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) raised concerns about human rights in Tibet related to the new ‘Ethnic Unity’ legislation. 

The ‘Ethnic Unity’ legislation, adopted on 11 January 2020, aims to establish ‘model areas for national unity and progress’ in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and to give the Chinese government powers to impose a Chinese-centric way of life and cultivate Chinese Communist Party informers in the region.

Certain provisions of the new regulations stand out, as they aim to indoctrinate Tibetan preschool children with ideological propaganda and interfere with the spheres of family life and their rights to privacy.

On 28 May, in light of the concerns regarding Tibet raised at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, MEP Isabel Santos filed a parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. MEP Santos asked “what actions are being pursued by the EEAS[European External Action Service] in connection with the bilateral dialogue with China regarding the autonomy of Tibet and the protection of human rights of Tibetans?”

Ms Santos also asked the Vice-President/High Representative to clarify his understanding “of the proposed Extradition Treaty between China and Nepal and its implications for Tibetan residents in Nepal?” 

On 24 July, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating that “the EU has repeatedly raised its strong concerns about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the rights of minorities in Tibet, both in EU-China bilateral meetings and publicly, including in multilateral fora”.

Mr Borrell expressed that “the EU has focused, in particular, on the conditions of prisoners, the rights of people belonging to minorities, freedom of religion or belief and the lack of reciprocal access to the region. It has done so, both in the framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, as well as, most recently, during the Strategic Dialogue between High Representative/Vice President Borrell and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, held on 9 June 2020, as well as during the EU-China summit on 22 June 2020”. He also added that “the European External Action Service remains committed to following developments related to Tibet and to continuing to express its expectation that the rights of the Tibetans should be respected”.

The High Representative/Vice-President stated that “Nepal and China signed a Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters as well as an Agreement on Boundary Management System during the visit of the Chinese President to Kathmandu in October 2019”, but “no agreement on an extradition treaty was signed during this visit, but both countries agreed to strengthen cooperation and information exchange among law enforcement agencies”.

In his closing, Mr Borrell reassured MEP Santos that “the European External Action Service is following closely developments in this area, as well as the application of the agreements concluded between China and Nepal, also considering the possible implications for the Tibetan community resident in Nepal”.

As the Chinese Communist Party continues its attempts to wipe out Tibetan culture, the European Union and other democratic and freedom-loving nations must condemn the blatant violations of human rights taking place across China – merely standing on the sidelines “following closely developments in this area” has proven too little too late when the we consider what has happened in Hong Kong and to the Uyghur Muslims in China. The new ethnic identity and anti-minority law, in Tibet, is reflective of Beijing’s current insecurities in the region and its ever tightening grip of retaining oppression over those who reject sinicization.

Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Tibet.svg

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