The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office released its annual Human Rights and Democracy Report on March 31, in which the British Foreign Secretary William Hague asserts that a commitment to promoting human rights around the world is part of an “irreducible core” of UK foreign policy.
Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said “The description of human rights as a ‘core’ issue is encouraging as it indicates there will be greater determination and resources given to promoting human rights. In Beijing’s lexicon, ‘a core issue’ is anything that the Chinese government refuses to discuss rationally, including the human rights situation in Tibet, and Foreign Secretary Hague’s comments are an important challenge to that notion.”
The report states that the UK government urged Beijing to “renew” its dialog with the Dalai Lama’s representatives as “the best way to reach a solution” on Tibet. It adds that British Embassy officials who visited Tibetan areas in 2010 noted there was “basic stability” and a low security presence, but that Tibetans face obstacles to participating in government-led development in Tibet. The same officials noted that “many Tibetans” maintain “only government suppression” is preventing further large-scale protests similar to those that broke out in March 2008.
There was “no significant progress on civil and political rights in China in 2010,” according to the 2010 Human Rights and Democracy Report. A comprehensive summary of human rights concerns listed in the report include not only the scale of executions carried out by Beijing, but also the lack of transparency surrounding the process of sentencing people to death, particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang; the same lack of transparency is hampering measures to tackle torture; and restrictions on freedom of expression and religious freedom remain.
“We certainly commend the driving sentiment behind this strong report, but how these sentiments translate into action is the most important measure of that sentiment,” added Mary Beth Markey.
[Read the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s annual Human Rights and Democracy Report here]