European Parliament Passes Resolution Calling for Release of Human Rights Activists in China
On 18 January 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Chinese human rights activists Wu Gan and Xie Yang, Taiwanese citizen Lee Ming-cheh, Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk and Tibetan Monk Choekyi. Each of these individuals have been imprisoned for actions constituting freedom of speech, freedom of religion or freedom of expression: fundamental human rights that are continuously violated in China.
The human rights framework within China has severely deteriorated due to new ‘counter-terror’ legislation, implemented by Xi Jinping’s government, which allows for the persecution of dissenters. This legislation has been used to target religious and ethnic minorities in China such as Tibetans and Uyghurs and allows for the violation of a wide range of fundamental human rights.
The parliamentary debate, and following resolution, focused on the pressing need for the European Parliament to put pressure on China to take action to stop these human rights violations. Not only are the arrests and detainment of human rights defenders a violation of their rights, it also goes against China’s own constitution. It is written into their constitutional framework that national minorities, freedom of speech, association, procession and demonstration should all be protected by law along with respect for religious freedom. The resolution calls on Chinese authorities to respect their own constitution and cease the persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers and activists.
Within the debate, there was strong condemnation of the treatment and incarceration of human rights defenders by the Chinese state, along with criticism of wider human rights violations. MEP Csaba Sogor (EPP) among others, called for a united response to China’s fundamental rights concerns from the European Parliament. MEP Jean Paul Denanot (S&D group) highlighted that EU leaders should be more critical and firm in pushing for improvements in human rights while visiting China. MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, in his intervention considers the Chinese country as respectful of trade’s rules but disrespectful of the national human dignity and deeply condemns the actions put in place by Chinese authorities. MEP Mr. Ilhan Kyuchyuk (ALDE) also brought up the case of prominent Uyghur rights activist, Ilham Tohti, who remains imprisoned for promoting open dialogue between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.
There were many interventions on this topic and a general consensus that the EU needs to continue to put pressure on China through all available channels, such as trade or through human rights dialogue. The European Parliament is committed to the protection of human rights and to the rule of law in its foreign policy decisions and this resolution can be regarded as concrete action towards an improvement on the human rights situation within China.
UNPO supports this resolution and praises those MEPs who have enabled it to proceed. UNPO condemn the arrest and detention of human rights defenders by the Chinese authorities and support the European Parliament’s call for their immediate and unconditional release.
The resolution can be read in full here.