China shuts Tibet out of Johannesburg summit

A Tibetan activist group Saturday denounced a UN committee’s rejection of its participation in a summit on sustainable development, accusing China of desperately trying to prevent any criticism.

A UN committee meeting in Bali on Friday passed a Chinese motion against accreditation for the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy at the World Summit on Sustainable Development from August 26 to September 4 in Johannesburg.

“All we are asking for is the right to participate in a conference,” executive director Tsewang Lhadon said in a statement from the centre’s base in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

“China is so desperate to stop any critical discussion of Tibet in the international arena that it stoops to procedural means to stifle debate,” she said.

Ninety countries voted for the Chinese motion to take no action on accreditation for the Tibetan centre. Thirty-seven countries dissented and 10 abstained.

“Supporting a no-action motion undermines the basic principles of democracy and freedom of statement,” Lhadon said.

The centre said the United States and European Union president Spain were among its supporters during the debate. China had sent a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging the centre not be allowed at the summit, calling it a separatist organisation “devoted to splitting Tibet from China.” The centre describes itself as an independent human rights group that interviews recently arrived refugees from Tibet.
It had hoped to present to the Earth summit a report on settlement patterns in Chinese-administered Tibet.

Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled here after a failed uprising in 1959 against China, which occupied the Buddhist state in 1959. - Sapa-AFP

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