Parliamentary question E-0005/04 by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0005/04
by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission
(05 January 2004)
Subject: Persecution of Uighur Organisations based in the European Union
The Government of the People's Republic of China has just published a wanted list of ethnic Uighur 'terrorists' abroad, and has called for their arrest and extradition in a renewed attempt to curb the political activities of Uighur activists outside China by branding their political activities as 'terrorism', thus garnering international support for its ongoing crackdown in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The official document published by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security listed four Uighur groups as 'terrorist organisations'. They include the World Uighur Youth Congress (WUYC) and the East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC). Both are political groups based in Germany, publicise reports of ongoing abuses against Uighurs in China and advocate self-determination for the region. The statement also listed 11 individuals as alleged 'terrorists', including the presidents of WUYC and ETIC. All are living abroad and the Chinese authorities have called on other states to arrest and extradite them to China.
The Chinese authorities continue to make little or no distinction between violent opposition and the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, association and religion. China considers any advocacy of greater autonomy or independence as 'ethnic separatism', which qualifies as a State Security crime under Chinese laws. Several hundred Uighurs accused of involvement in such activities have been executed since the mid-1990s, thousands of others have been detained and imprisoned after unfair trials and torture, and growing restrictions have been placed on the Islamic clergy and the practice of Islam in the region.
What action is the Commission going to take to prevent people supporting freedom and democracy in China, be they inside the PRC or outside, from paying with torture or even their lives for their belief in the Rule of Law and fundamental rights? Was this issue raised during the last EU-PRC summit in Beijing and if so, what was decided both by the EU and the PRC's authorities?'
Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(written question: E-0005/04)
(17 February 2004)
The EU attaches the utmost importance to the situation of human rights throughout the world and has made it a major element of its policy towards third countries. The right to freedom of expression, association and religion has always been very high on the agenda of the EU-China dialogue on human rights, most recently during the last session held in Beijing on 27 and 28 November 2003. This has also been regularly addressed in the framework of the political dialogue, as was the case during the last EU-China bilateral Summit which took place in Beijing on 30 October 2003.
The EU has consistently called the Chinese authorities to fully respect these rights, with a special emphasis put on the rights of the minorities, especially the Uighur Community. With regard to the latter, the EU’s long standing position has been to underline that the fight against terrorism should always be conducted in a manner which respects human rights and that a clear distinction should be made between peaceful expression of dissent and violent action.
Moreover the EU has, in its dialogue, also expressed concerns at ongoing reports on widespread use of torture in China. In its view, the entry into force on 1 January 2004 of a new regulation of the Ministry of Public Security designed to stop practices such as torture to secure confessions or investigate offences is a welcome step whose implementation will be closely monitored. It is also to be noted that China agreed in principle at the last session of the human rights dialogue to engage in triangular cooperation with the EU and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on torture prevention.
These matters will again be addressed during the next session of the human rights dialogue to be held in Dublin on 26 and 27 February 2004.
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