Van Bommel: China denies oppression of Tibetans and Uighurs

10 May 2013

Van Bommel: China denies oppression of Tibetans and Uighurs

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has expressed disappointment at the reactions which he has encountered in China in response to his concerns about the position of minorities there. ‘Reports from human rights organisations have shown time and again the serious abuses of rights, including those of the Tibetan and Uighur communities,’ says Van Bommel. ‘Political bigwigs in China tell me, however, that there’s nothing in these reports and that everything is going extraordinarily well. These reactions show clearly that when it comes to respect for the human rights of minorities in China there’s still a long way to go.’

Harry van BommelVan Bommel spent last week in China with a delegation from the Dutch Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The delegation visited a number of towns and cities including Beijing and Shanghai and held talks with members of the People’s National Congress. In addition to the position of minorities, discussions focussed on respect for human rights and on economic relations between the Netherlands and China, as well as China’s geopolitical role on the world stage.

The political dialogue between China and representatives of the Tibetan community has been stagnant for years. The many suicides by immolation by Tibetan monks in China, which already total more than a hundred, are a reaction to the lack of any prospect of change and a protest against persistent oppression. Reports from human rights organisations indicate that people who are in any way involved in these immolations are being treated with increasing severity. ‘Vice-minister Si Ta of the United Front Work Department, himself a Tibetan, speaks forcefully against the reports of repression,’ says Van Bommel, ‘but the fact that our delegation was not allowed to visit Tibet, as has also been the case in the past for the Netherlands’ human rights ambassador, says quite enough by itself.’

It recently became clear that two Chinese who had served as interpreters on around a thousand asylum requests from Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority community in China, had acted as spies for the Chinese government. Amnesty International had recently reported that returned Uighurs were sometimes in danger of prison or worse. ‘In the talks Si Ta said that freedom of language and religion were rights and that this applied also to the Uighurs,’ said Van Bommel, ‘but he stressed the problem that Uighurs abroad were organising for political reasons to bring about China’s break-up. In my view, however, what was most telling was that Si Ta could not convincingly refute the allegation that a dreadful fate awaited returned Uighurs in China.'

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