China has written to diplomats and U.N. officials urging them not to attend a Geneva event on Friday where the Dalai Lama [above, center] will speak, reasserting that it opposes his appearance at all venues due to his “separatist activities”, Reuters reports:
China is waging a campaign of intimidation, obstruction and harassment that Western diplomats and activists say is aimed at silencing criticism of its human rights record at the United Nations.
In a letter seen by Reuters on Thursday, China’s diplomatic mission in Geneva raised objections about the presence of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader on the panel of Nobel laureates, being held at the Geneva Graduate Institute.
Philippe Burrin, director of the Geneva institute, said that “pressures are being applied from various sides” but the event would not be cancelled.
“This is a question of freedom of expression and academic freedom to organise an event,” he told Reuters. “It is not an event on Tibet, it is not on a politically sensitive subject, i.e. territorial issues, but on the role of civil society in promoting human rights,” he said.
China should not fear greater openness and engagement in Tibet and the United States must emphasize this idea at the highest levels, according to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts’ Democrat.
The Chinese government has succeeded at marginalizing the discussion of grave human rights abuses in too many international forums and interactions. The democracy and human rights activists we met with in China pleaded with us for the United States to be more openly and directly engaged in these issues, they write for USA Today:
Advancing human rights is fundamental to our national values and our national security. It must be a prominent part of our conversations with the Chinese government at every level.
Our country has a responsibility to speak out in support of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere in China. If freedom-loving people do not speak out for human rights in China because of our commercial interests, then we lose our moral authority to talk about it any other place in the world.