Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (163)

Denis Naughten


163. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the action he is taking to address political and religious repression in Tibet at EU level and to curb the practice of self-immolation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10324/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government follows ongoing issues in Tibet with concern and I am saddened and concerned by the increasing number of Tibetans, many of them young people, who have committed self-immolation.

On behalf of the EU, the High Representative Catherine Ashton issued a declaration on 14 December 2012 on Tibetan self-immolations. This declaration was issued with the support of Member States, including Ireland. The declaration conveyed our concern at the restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity, which appear to be giving rise to a surge of discontent in the region. While respecting China’s territorial integrity, the EU called upon the Chinese authorities to address the deep-rooted causes of the frustration of the Tibetan people to ensure that their civil, political, economic and social and cultural rights are respected, including their right to enjoy their own culture, to practise their own religion and to use their own language.

This declaration also called on Tibetan community and religious leaders to use their influence to help stop this tragic loss of life.

Ireland together with our EU partners believes that constructive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama is the best way to address differences and tensions in Tibet and to reach a solution that respects Tibetan culture, language, religion and identity. It is important for the long-term peace and stability of the region that the two sides come to an agreement on the future of Tibet. To this end, we continue to encourage a resumption of meaningful dialogue.

The promotion of human rights is an important dimension of European foreign policy, as enshrined in the Treaty of the European Union. Constructive dialogue remains the EU’s preferred channel for working to improve the human rights situation in China. Human rights are discussed as part of regular political dialogue as well as during specific human rights dialogues with China which have taken place since 1995.

Bilaterally, Ireland continues to convey its concerns about the situation in Tibet directly to the Chinese authorities through regular contacts in both Dublin and Beijing.