China pressed over Tibet at UN

From Reuters – China has come under pressure at the United Nations’ human rights forum to ease its clampdown on Tibet by lifting curbs on movement and information and not using force in the restive Himalayan region.

The European Union, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, urged Beijing to refrain from force against a wave of Tibetan protests that began on March 10 – the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule – and led to riots.

The United States, Australia, Canada and Switzerland also called on China to lift restrictions on movement and information from Tibet, where a ban on foreign media has made it difficult to know whether rights abuses are taking place.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council whose economic clout makes it a strategic ally for both rich and poor countries, rarely faces direct criticism at the United Nations.

Beijing currently holds one of the 47 rotating seats on the two-year-old Human Rights Council. India, the country hosting Tibetan Buddhism’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is also a member, along with Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The Geneva-based Council was set up to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, criticised for failing to overcome political alliances and take a strong stand on issues, including China’s 1989 repression of student protests in Tiananmen Square.

Addressing the Council on Tuesday, Amnesty International cited reports that protesters in Tibet were “apparently attacked solely for their ethnic identity, resulting in death, injury and damage to property.”

“In restoring order, the Chinese authorities have resorted to measures which violate international human rights law and standards,” it said, also calling on the Council to assess long-term issues such as limits on Tibetans’ religious practices and their perceived exclusion from China’s economic gains.

Last week 65 Asian rights groups appealed for a special session on Tibet, similar to those previously convened about the Palestinian territories, Sudan’s Darfur region, and Myanmar, where military rulers suppressed monk-led protests last year.

The groups also called for UN rights experts to be sent to Tibet to investigate conditions there.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said last week that Beijing – which will host the Olympic Games in August – needed to account fully and credibly for what is happening in Tibet.

“China is ready to open its door to 30,000 foreign journalists in August,” she told the Canadian broadcaster CBC.

“Why can’t it open its door to one or two foreign journalists in Tibet now, when the world is equally interested in what is happening in Tibet as it will be in what will be happening in the Olympics?” she asked.


  1. Japan’s Emperor Akihito and other members of the royal family are unlikely to attend the Beijing Olympics amid concerns here about China’s crackdown in Tibet and other issues, a report said Wednesday.

    The Japanese government thinks it is not a good time for a rare royal visit because of the unrest in Tibet, a recent health scare over Chinese-made “gyoza” dumplings and a spat over disputed gas fields, the Sankei daily said.

    “We were planning not to ask royals to go even before the gyoza incident (surfaced in January). It is all the more true now that the Tibetan unrest occurred,” it quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

    Japanese authorities have confirmed at least 10 people suffered pesticide poisoning after eating tainted dumplings imported from China.

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao invited Emperor Akihito and other royals to the opening ceremony of the August Olympics when he visited Japan last year.

    The emperor told Wen then that the government decides on the royal family’s foreign trips, a palace spokesman said.

    The foreign ministry said no formal decision had been made.

    “Nothing has been decided regarding the attendance of dignitaries,” a ministry official said.

    The last trip to China by members of Japan’s imperial household was a landmark visit by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in 1992.

    China remains deeply resentful over Japan’s brutal occupation from 1931 to 1945, an era in which the Japanese revered Akihito’s father Hirohito as a demigod.

    The two countries have recently worked to mend ties, which were strained by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to a war shrine in Tokyo, which Beijing regards as a symbol of Japan’s militarist past.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Japan in the coming months.

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