Memorandum submitted by Free Tibet Campaign
Free Tibet Campaign stands for the Tibetans'
right to determine their own future. It campaigns for an end to
the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the Tibetans' fundamental
human rights to be respected. It is independent of all governments
and is funded by its members and supporters.
The following submission comments on the section
of the Report that relates to China and Tibet on page 19, and
the paragraph on page 113 concerning the policing of the State
Visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
The presentation of the Human Rights Annual
Report 2000 clearly reflects the criticisms made of last year's
report, notably by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Many
of these criticisms were evidently taken on board and a great
deal more information about China and Tibet has been provided,
despite the fact that there has been no change in policy. For
the first time, the Report includes a section on Tibet. Free Tibet
Campaign welcomes the increased attention and profile given to
Tibet, but in this case presentation has taken precedence over
1. A little like renaming Windscale as Sellafield,
"constructive engagement" (the expression used by Ministers
and officials in the past) has been re-christened "critical
engagement", but little else has changed in the past year
despite a well-documented and serious crackdown in Tibet and China.
2. The Government does not acknowledge the
merits of considering a multi-dimensional approach to tackling
human rights and Tibet with China, rather than continuing its
current "tick-box" foreign policy. The measures listed
in the Report are limited to short exchanges between Ministers,
the (much criticised) programme of Dialogue and associated co-operation
projects, and the UN Commission for Human Rightswhich is
rejected as a mechanism.
3. The Government states that it encourages
Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, and the Chinese to enter into
dialogue over the future of Tibet, yet fails to acknowledge that
this policy is compromised by the fact that the Government does
not recognise and has no formal contact with the exiled Tibetan
Government. Even when the Prime Minister met the Dalai Lama in
May 1999, a senior member of the Church was present, to appease
China and diminish the Dalai Lama's status to one solely of spiritual
leader (unlike the Dalai Lama's meeting with President Clinton
that November). On 6 July 2000, the European Parliament passed
an Urgency Resolution, calling on EU member states to consider
recognising the Tibetan Government in exile, if no progress has
been made towards negotiations within three years.
4. The Report describes how Ministers raised
concerns about individuals with their Chinese counterparts, but
fails to acknowledge instances where China flouted or ignored
these concerns. For example, the sentencing of Uighur businesswoman
Rebiya Kadeer after Robin Cook expressed concern about her case
to Tang Jiaxuan in October 1999. In last year's Memorandum, we
also referred to the sentencing of democracy activist Xu Wenli
in December 1998, within weeks of Tony Blair asking Jiang Zemin
to end his arbitrary detention. Whilst the British Government
is in no way responsible for China's actions in these cases, the
Report would have provided a more accurate picture of how China
can behave in response to quiet diplomacy if such instances had
5. The report contains the following inaccuracies:
(a) it implies that the Dalai Lama has accepted
Tibet as an autonomous region of China. In fact the Dalai Lama
states that Tibet is an occupied country, but he has said that
he would be prepared to negotiate "genuine autonomy"
for Tibet (Box on page 19, paragraph 3); and
(b) 1959 was not the 40th anniversary of
the invasion of Tibet, which began in 1949-50, but the 40th anniversary
of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile (page 19, paragraph 2).
6. The report does not explicitly state
that the Government and the European Union feared China would
cancel the dialogue if a resolution was sponsored at the 56th
Commission for Human Rights, despite public admissions that this
was the case by officials and by the Secretary of State to the
Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 25 October 2000. As in the
case of quiet diplomacy, this omission serves to give a slightly
inaccurate picture of events.
7. We are glad to see that, following comments
made about the 1999 Report, the 2000 Report acknowledges restrictions
on Tibetans in freedom of religion, expression and association,
in addition to the suppression of political dissent. But this
does not go far enough. As stated in Free Tibet Campaign's submission
on last year's report, in Tibet, an increase in controls over
many aspects of daily life is dis-empowering and angering ordinary
Tibetan people. These include:
Economic policiesincluding China's
"Go West" strategy which plans to exploit Tibet's natural
resources, and consolidate political control through population
transfer; the arbitrary taxation of Tibetans; fencing of nomadic
lands and forced settling of nomads; economic discrimination in
favour of Han settlers.
Social impacts of Sinicisationthe
loss of traditional Tibetan culture; introduction of prostitution
and alcoholism; the marginalisation of Tibetans as a result of
the high cost of education/restrictions on education in the Tibetan
8. The Report accurately acknowledges that
politically sensitive events meant that 1999 would be a bad year
for human rights in China and Tibet. The year 2000 has, if anything,
been worse in Tibet with a major crackdown on freedom of religion,
involving late night house to house searches for religious artefacts.
9. The Report states that "the Metropolitan
Police reviewed the operation and full account will be taken during
future State Visits of the lessons learnt." Free Tibet Campaign's
legal challenge to the Metropolitan Police in May 2000 resulted
in a declaration of unlawful behaviour, which directly contradicted
the findings of the Met's internal review (published March 2000).
We are concerned that the Met's internal review was therefore
inadequate and that the correct lessons have not been learned.
Specifically, we have asked:
(a) How did the unlawful behaviour of the
Metropolitan Police officers come about? The explanation given,
ie that it "may have arisen as a result of a misunderstanding
concerning the interplay of the Vienna Convention, the complex
Royal Parks bylaws, the general requirement for maintaining order
and the responsibility to allow free protest." (Assistant
Commissioner Ian Johnston) is absurd.
(b) Why did the Metropolitan Police's internal
review fail to identify that such behaviour was unlawful?
(c) Why have the Metropolitan Police not
explained attempts to remove flags/suppress protest away from
Royal Parks? On 20 October 1999, police attempted to remove a
flag tied to the balcony of a flat in Wapping. Officers were clearly
briefed to recognise the Tibetan flag. A Uighur protester had
an officer attempt to remove his flag on the South Bank on the
same day, and a Chinese woman wishing merely to hold up a small
photo of an imprisoned son were hustled from Tower Bridgeall
while Jiang Zemin was travelling by river to Greenwich. These
incidents are well away from Royal Parks, so cannot be attributed
to the risible explanation in (a).
(d) Whether there was pressure from the British
and/or Chinese governments on the Metropolitan Police to remove
flags and banners in the Mall and elsewhere from people "solely
on the basis that they were protesting against the Chinese regime".