Oct 18, 2018

Protest: Put Human Rights in China on the ASEM Agenda!

On the occasion of the 12th ASEM (Asia-Europe) Summit on 18 and 19 October, the Uyghur, Tibetan and Southern Mongolian communities will hold a demonstration in Brussels, calling on EU leaders to use this meeting to voice concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in China, in particular for ethnic and religious groups.

Over the past years, the Chinese government has curtailed further a wide range of fundamental human rights in Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongol populated areas, often in the name of security maintenance, ‘stability’ and national unity. In these regions, Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians are racially profiled, subjected to invasive forms of surveillance, and any expression of dissent has been equated with terrorism and harshly silenced.

In Tibet, as stringent new regulations on Religious Affairs were adopted, the authorities imposed further interferences and controls on Tibetan Buddhism. Forced demolition, pollution and seizure of traditional grazing lands without adequate compensation remained commonplace in Southern Mongolia. And in East Turkestan, over one million Uyghurs are being arbitrarily detained in internment camps with frequent reports of torture and death in detention.

"The leaders of democratic countries participating in the 12 ASEM Summit should push for the inclusion of Human rights issues and the rule of law into the official agenda," said the International Campaign for Tibet’s EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. "This International gathering presents an opportunity for the EU to raise its concerns with foreign head of States and governments about grave violations of human rights occurring in several ASEM countries such as China. In particular, we urge EU leaders to raise with the head of Chinese delegation, Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the lack of reciprocity in the relations between the EU and China and the problem of access to Tibet for European diplomats journalists and tourists".

"Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians and all those who call for their basic rights and freedoms in China are under attack. It is becoming an existential problem, as everything that makes us unique, our language, culture, religious beliefs and ethnic identity are being targeted in a systematic campaign of forced cultural assimilation," said the President of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa. "We realise that the EU has many geopolitical and economic factors to consider, but common humanity and human rights should always be at the core of EU policy. This summit is an important opportunity for the EU to reassert its commitment to human rights and European values by raising these crucial issues with their Chinese counterparts."

“Following its population transfer, the economic exploitation and the ethnic repression, today, China is carrying out the total destruction of Mongolian traditional way of life, of its natural environment and the nomadic civilization as a whole. The Government of China is becoming flagrant in violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in Southern Mongolia, Tibet and the Uyghur Region. It’s time for western democracies to be more vocal on the topic” Said Enghebatu Togochog, director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)

 “In China, Southern Mongolians, Tibetans and Uyghurs continue to be targeted simply for being who they are; their freedoms are restricted, their languages, cultures and traditions are wiped-out, and their natural environment is destroyed” said Lucia Parrucci UNPO Advocacy Officer “The ASEM Summit represents a key opportunity for the EU to demand that Beijing uphold their human rights, and in doing so, mainstream the values of human rights and democracy it has committed to promote at the highest levels and in all areas of its external action.

The demonstration, which is co-organized by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, the International Campaign for Tibet, the World Uyghur Congress and the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, will take place on the Schuman Roundabout in the EU district on Thursday 18 from 11h to 13h.

 Demonstrators will call on the EU to press China to:

  • Repeal or significantly amend laws, regulations, and other legal provisions that use security maintenance, including counter-terrorism, as a pretext to criminalize peaceful dissent and religious expression of ethnic and religious groups, including Muslim Uyghurs and Buddhist Tibetans and Mongolians;
  • Review policies and laws that discriminate against ethnic groups, such as the unlawful mass arbitrary detention of Uyghur in so-called “reeducation centres”, the eviction and forced resettlements of Mongolian herders from their lands, and the restrictions on the use of the Tibetan language;
  • Call on the Chinese government to reveal the names, whereabouts and current status of all those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance;
  • Allow independent investigators and UN Special Procedures mandate holders access to the country;
  • Refrain from harassing and threatening Tibetan, Uyghur and Southern Mongolian diaspora communities in Europe and to immediately cease the practice of arresting or disappearing the family members of activists and journalists;
  • Immediately and unconditionally release all members of ethnic and religious communities held in arbitrary detention, especially the over 1 million Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs held in internment camps, or detained solely for exercising or promoting their rights, including Uyghur economics professor Ilham Tohti, Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk and Southern Mongolian activist Bao Guniang;
  • Start promoting a view of ethnic groups’ cultures that neither reduces them to folklore, nor try to Sinicize them or promote the superiority of the Chinese culture.