In July 2012, Stravros Lambrinidis was appointed EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the first EU appointment of this kind. At that time the International Campaign for Tibet expressed its willingness to interact with the newly appointed EU Special Representative for Human Rights regarding the situation in Tibet and called on Mr. Lambrinidis to guarantee that human rights are included at every level of EU-China relations (see: Stavros Lambrinidis appointed first EU Special Representative for Human Rights).
Mr. Lambrinidis took office on 1 September and last week, on 28 November, he addressed the European Parliament’s Sub-committee on human rights on the main activities he has undertaken during his first two months in office and future priorities for his mandate.
Among other things, Special Representative Lambrinidis expressed his readiness and commitment to work on Tibet within his mandate. Tibet was listed as one of his priority issues. He said he met with the Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Wu Hailong and communicated his interest to visit the People’s Republic of China, including Tibetan areas. Most importantly, he said that he is open to meet representatives of the Tibetans and other Tibetan people to have a better understanding of their grievances.
Just few weeks before, High-Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay released a robust statement urging the Chinese government to immediately address the long-standing Tibetan grievances that have led to an escalation of self-immolations (see: UN Rights Commissioner makes strong first statement on Tibet) . Similarly, the Chairlady of the European Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights (DROI), Barbara Lochbihler, criticized the Chinese government over the human rights situation in Tibet in an interview with the German News Agency DPA on 3 November (see: Appell: Chinas künftige Führung muss Menschenrechte achten) .
All of them have expressed in different occasions their interest in visiting Tibet to personally assess the situation there according to their human rights mandate. Yet, none of them was granted formal invitation from the Chinese government to go to Tibet. However, the recent visit by US Ambassador Locke to afflicted Tibetan areas since the self-immolations crisis accelerated in 2011 demonstrates that visiting Tibet is not impossible.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has constantly appealed to the international community to visit Tibet. The international community should not give up and continue requiring the Chinese government access to Tibetan areas and the possibility to personally witness the situation on the ground.
The recent attention shown to Tibet by senior figures with leadership responsibility in the area of human rights should be seen in Beijing as an indication of serious concerns that demand urgent attention.