Thursday, June 14, 2012

Swiss court may unveil black money names on 3CDs - R. Vaidyanathan

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Swiss court may unveil black money names on 3CDs

Jun 12, 2012

By R Vaidyanathan

Over the next couple of weeks, a Zurich court could unveil the names of several account holders of Swiss bank Julius Baer, which could include many Indian names.

Julius Baer had until 31 May to object to a Zurich High Court decision to unseal three CDs containing names of several account-holders, but the Swiss bank failed to do so – which could mean that these three CDs are at the core of a case involving Rudolf Elmer, a former Julius Baer Chief Operating Officer, who leaked 2,000 names to WikiLeaks. Elmer was then arrested and went on trial for allegedly breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws. However, the case against him would not hold if the CDs are found to contain names of account-holders of the bank in Cayman Islands, where Elmer worked for two years.

names could soon be in the public domain
The CDs could soon become public information since Elmer has chosen to have his trial in public. They could have a big impact in India if the CDs are found to contain any Indian names, given the huge political impact of this disclosure.

Elmer claims that he has only published 5 percent of the data on WikiLeaks and so there may be much worse to come.

The prosecution case in the lower court was that Elmer had a Swiss contract with the bank (under which he had to respect banking secrecy laws) even though for two of the eight years he worked for the bank in Cayman Islands. A lower court upheld the prosecution case and found him guilty but on appeal the high court judge decided in November last year that because the data on the CDs had not been revealed, it was not known whether it was Cayman or Swiss data.

“If it’s Cayman data, then it’s not under Swiss banking secrecy laws and they cannot find me guilty on a contract,” Elmer has said.

After that, the fight has been about what is on the CDs, one of which had been given to the newspaper Cash. The prosecution had asked the paper to hand over the CDs, but Cash instead sent them to Julius Baer on the grounds of protecting their sources. The bank argued that they should remain sealed to protect client privacy.

The high court dismissed this argument and opted to unseal the CDs. JB had until 31 May to appeal against the decision, but the deadline has now passed with no appeal, which means the contents of the CDs are set to be revealed against the bank’s wishes.

The important point to note is that the consequences could be disastrous for the bank and for tax evaders around the world. The Prosecution Office of Zurich will get all client names and in an open trial the names could be made public. Even if the names aren’t divulged, the tax authorities in other countries will have the option to request information from Zurich’s Prosecution Office. Whether India is going to ask for the names is another matter.

“The can of worms will be opened even more,” Elmer has been quoted as saying in the media. “I believe it is very important for international clients to know that the CDs are now with the prosecution and an enormous risk arises that their names might be published, or even that information requests will be filed with Zurich’s Prosecution Office.”

Now let us look at what kind of black money from elsewhere is lodged in secret Swiss bank accounts. Nearly one trillion Swiss francs out of 2.8 trillion of Swiss money is black money, says Konrad Hummler, former chairman of the Swiss Private Bankers Association. (See August 2009,Swiss Review, “Atlantic hurricane hits Switzerland in full force.”)

Hummler is quoted as saying: “Switzerland has become a paradise for foreign capital on which tax is not paid. The uproar from foreign governments is understandable.”

As to what this means, in August 2009 one Swiss franc was nearly equal to the US dollar. It means that US$ 1 trillion in black money has been kept in Swiss banks. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has mentioned that Indians are a large class of investors in Swiss banks and much of the recent revelations pertaining to Commonwealth Games, Koda and other scams lead us to the Cayman Islands through Swiss banks.

Sources in the Swiss banking industry feel that since the Elmer data belongs to 2002, it may be less damaging than if it were recent. However, any Indian names found on the list will have huge political impact.



Elmer asserts that he has published only 5 percent the data on WikiLeaks, and says he did not release the other 95 percent because it was not his job to publish client names. It was up to the tax authorities to chase cases of evasion. He also claimed that when the CDs were unsealed it would do a lot more damage than the original WikiLeaks publication

Only time will tell whether or not the bank or its clients have anything to fear when the full contents of the CDs are revealed. But the fact that the bank fought so hard to keep them private suggests otherwise. The CDs are a ticking time bomb both for whose names may be on them, and for the political establishment.

R Vaidyanathan is professor at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. Views are personal


State Government Fails to Submit Report on Asbestos Fiber related diseases to NHRC 


Villagers to Hold Mahadharana Against White Asbestos Plant on June 14 in Vaishali


Ban Use & Manufaturing of Silent Killer Fiber Based Products
Patna/New Delhi June 13, 2012: A statement from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has revealed that State government has failed to submit its report on asbestos related diseases. The statement dated June 5, 2012 is attached. NHRC had issued the notice to Chief Secretary, Bihar Government on July 6, 2011. Meanwhile, Union Railway Ministry has started procuring asbestos free products. ༯span>
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) demands immediate steps to prevent environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos' besides non-occupational exposures to asbestos by banning use and manufacturing of white asbestos based products. It will set a healthy precedent for all the other states, the central government and neighboring countries. If a decision is taken ahead of Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development being held during June 20-22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where a global political document is due to adopted by the Heads of States to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, it will enhance StateⳠprestige among the comity of nations. A program titled "Deadly Business Asbestos: Are you the next victim?" is planned at PeopleⳠSummit at Rio on June 15, 2012.
A copy of the notice is attached. NHRCⳠrelease in Hindi is attached as well. The English version is availble at http://nhrc.nic.in/dispArchive.asp?fno=2334

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) demands that Chief Secretary ought to take cognizance of the incurable diseases caused by white asbestos. It is high time he intervened to stop any asbestos plant from being set up in the State because among other things it damages the reputation of the State by showing complete absence of scientific temper. Chief Secretary should submit its report on victims of Asbestos diseases to the NHRC at the earliest announce compensation package for present and future victims of these incurable lung diseases. The attached TWAⳠpaper on Status of Hazardous White Asbestos Factories in Bihar gives an overview of the situation.࠼br>
Underlining the importance of NHRCⳠnotice, villagers of VaishaliⳠChaksultan Ramppur Rajdhari near Panapur in Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat of in Goraul block have decided to hold a Mahadharana against the proposed white asbetsos plant of Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) company in their village on June 14, 2012. Their pamphlet is attached. Villagers have been proesting against the fake public hearing and faulty environmental clearnce under the banner of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangarsh Committee. They had organised a public meeting in this regard on May 1, 2012 as well wherein local officials were also present.ࠠࠠࠠ ࠠ༯span>
State Government should persuade the central government which does not favour new asbestos plants in the country in principle to translate its pious intention into practice. "The Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos." It has noted that "Asbestosis is yet another occupational disease of the Lungs which is on an increase under similar circumstances warranting concerted efforts of all stake holders to evolve strategies to curb this menace". A concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour revealed this at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on ㏣cupational Safety and Health䠯n 19-20th September, 2011. (Reference: http://www.labour.nic.in/lc/Background%20note.pdf).
In this regard the attached New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including White Asbestos from India that was issued by worldⳠrenowned scientists, doctors and jurists in March 2011 also merit attention.࠼br>
TWA appeals to the Bihar Government to pay heed to the recommendations of Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) in its order dated January 31, 2009. The recommendations are: a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b) The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs. These recommendations are relevant for Bihar as well. It underlines the need for banning use of asbestos roofs in the State.
In a related development, Bihar State Human Rights Commission (BSHRC) announced that the white asbestos plant that was under construction in Chainpur-Bishunpur village, Jakhra Sheikh Panchyat, Marwan block of Muzaffarpur has been wound up. The relevant File Note 45/11 Justice S N Jha Chairman, BSHRC is attached.ࠠ࠼br>
Bihar Government should take note of the Union Environment MinistryⳠ19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: ぬternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out䮠The same is available at moef.nic.in/divisions/cpoll/envhealth/visenvhealth.pdf.
Asbestos producing countries like Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil have are dumping their asbestos to user countries like India. Interestingly, Canada has a no home use policy. In India, asbestos mining is technically banned. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibers) is banned but the process of banning trade, manufacturing and use of white asbestos is held because of the corporate infleunce of the asbetsos companies over ruling parties.
There are grave concerns about asbestos exposures resulting in public health crisis world over. This has compelled 55 countries to ban use of asbestos. In the absence of environmental and occupational health infrastructure, the passivity of the state governments cannot be deemed acceptable given the fact that health is a State subject.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com Web:toxicswatch.blogspot.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com



Arunachal Pradesh, where around 13 per cent of the population follows Buddhism, has got its first full-fledged Buddhist centre after Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies at Dahung in West Kameng district, where a majority of the people follow Tibetan Buddhism, is now a full-fledged central institute, according to its founder Tsona Gontse Rinpoche.
The institute, conceived by Rinpoche in 2000, had received the nod of the Union Cabinet on May 26, 2010 with a project cost estimated at Rs 9 crore and recurring annual cost of Rs 124.86 lakh.
"It began with a central government grant of Rs 97 lakh and has since grown into a good institute to fill the vacuum in imparting education on Buddhism, Rinpoche said.
 "I had pursued the Centre to establish such an institute considering the large number of Buddhist population residing in the Northeast," he said.
He pointed out that with only 25 faculty members and limited infrastructures, the institute has so far produced two batches (18 each) of Shastri (equivalent to BA in Buddhist Philosophy) degree holders.
Besides teaching arts and crafts for self-sufficiency and sustainable development and preservation of ethnic identity to foster national integrity, the institute has been inculcating an awareness on the ecological balance and preservation of natural resources, he said.
He said the other three institutes are: Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, a deemed university, Central University for Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi, and Central Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, Leh.
Rinpoche said 30 acres of land was provided by the Bugun community free of cost for the institute which has been running on an ad-hoc basis for over a decade and henceforth would be completely funded by the MoC.
The Buddhist population of the state resides in the region's Tawang, West Kameng, remote regions which are close to Tibet and near the Myanmar border.
Tibetan Buddhism is practised in the first three regions while Therevada Buddhism reigns supreme in the lives of people living near the Myanmarese border.
Rimpoche earnestly believes that the institute will soon turn into a deemed university.

Euro 2012: Czech beats Greece; Poland draws with Russia



Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored in the first six minutes to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 win over Greece, while Poland kept their chances of a quarter-finals berth alive after drawing 1-1 with Russia at the European Championship.

Jiracek shot the ball past Greece goalkeeper Costas Chalkias in the third minute after a pass from Tomas Hubschmann sliced through the Greek defense. Three minutes later, Pilar scored his second goal of the tournament, beating Greek defenders to a ball sent across the goal by Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie.
Substitute Fanis Gekas pulled one back for Greece in 53rd minute with a tap in after Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech spilled the ball and bumped into defender Tomas Sivok.
The Greeks, who played the Group A match without two key central defenders, nearly scored another in the 41st, but the header from Giorgos Fotakis was called back for offside.
The Greeks recovered well after their disastrous start, but lost another player when Chalkias limped off the field in the 23rd minute. He was replaced by Michalis Sifakis.
Despite the defensive problems, Greece coach Fernando Santos stuck with his attacking lineup of three forwards. The strategy helped the Greeks dominate the second half.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky came off with a foot injury in the second half.
The Czech fans booed coach Michal Bilek at the start of the match, but the team rebounded from its opening 4-1 loss to Russia in Group A. The Czechs also avenged their semifinal loss to Greece at Euro 2004.

Poland hold Russia to stay in Euro hunt

The Poles, needing to take at least a point from the Group A match in the wake of their 1-1 tournament opener against Greece on Friday, were keenly aware of Russia's high-octane 4-1 performance against the Czech Republic the same night.

A goal by Alan Dzagoev yesterday in the first-half - his third of the tournament - was cancelled out in spectacular fashion in the second-half by Polish captain Kuba Blaszczykowski.

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat praised Poland for their performance but added he was happy with the point.

"Poland played very well tonight being under the risk of losing the chance to win a place in the last eight if they lost," he said.

"Meanwhile, we allowed them to create too many chances in attack.

"That means we still need to strengthen our defence. We also played well and scored before the break and had many chances in the second but we missed them all. In general, I'd say the draw is a good result for us," said the 64-year-old Dutchman.

Russian captain Andrei Arshavin said that while the point was welcome they only had themselves to blame for allowing the Poles back into the game.

"We started well and took the lead but after the break we played too loosely allowing Poland to reply on dangerous counter-attacks," he said. Poland coach Franciszek Smuda was happy with the result but above all with the way his players had stuck to their gameplan - he won't be so happy with the angry manner in which Ludovic Obraniak shurgged him aside on being taken off in the final minute.
"We are a young side, and we are going to get ever better.

"I am above all happy with the players because they played to the gameplan from the first to last minute."

In what may be the most politically-charged fixture of the tournament, Poland looked the hungrier team in the first half, launching a series of convincing attacks on the Russian goal.

Hard work appeared to have paid off when Eugen Polanski moved onto a through ball from lone striker Robert Lewandowski and fired past Vyacheslav Malafeev.
But fans and the Polish bench swung from ecstasy to misery when his 18th-minute shot was ruled offside.

A resurgent Russia picked up the pace, with Arshavin crossing in the 25th minute to Aleksandr Kerzhakov, only for him to miss the target.

Polish keeper Przeymslaw Tyton - whose penalty-saving heroics after he came on as a substitute for red-carded first choice Wojciech Szczesny helped avoid a Polish defeat to Greece - saved a free kick from Arshavin a minute later.

Russia's efforts bore fruit in the 37th minute when rising star Dzagoev, who notched a double against the Czechs, latched onto an inswinging Arshavin free kick to open the scoring.

The Poles appeared tired, but battled hard, and finally equalised in the 57th minute when Blaszczykowski picked up a cross from Obraniak and fired home a left-footed piledriver.

There were nervous moments for both sides in the remainder of the half, with the noise levels rising in Warsaw's brand-new National Stadium.

Sporting encounters between Poland and Russia are often high pressure, as they feed into centuries of antipathy between the two nations, and the rivalry in the stadium's terraces was palpable from the start of the match.

Tensions had risen in Warsaw beforehand, as police made dozens of arrests and used water canons to halt brawls between fans from both camps.

With the Czech Republic having beaten Greece 2-1 earlier on Tuesday, Russia top Group A on four points after two amtches with the Czechs second on three points, Poland third on two and Greece fourth on one.

Russia wrap up their group matches against Greece on Saturday, when Poland face the Czechs.

Portugal win over Denmark; Germany beat Netherlands


Portugal win over Denmark; Germany beat Netherlands      Substitute Silvestre Varela smashed in a late goal to grab a 3-2 victory for Portugal over Denmark, while Germany beat Netherlands 2-1, on Wednesday at Euro 2012.  Varela's 87th-minute strike secured all three points for Portugal in a pulsating match after Denmark had erased their two-goal lead with close-range headers by Nicklas Bendtner in the 41st and 80th minutes. Victory in the Ukrainian city of Lviv put Portugal back in contention in Group B after they lost their first match to Germany, who were playing the Netherlands in Kharkiv. Denmark also have three points in a tight group but could not reproduce the form that spurred them to a shock 1-0 victory over the Dutch. Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most expensive footballer, misfired in front of goal for Portugal but defender Pepe struck in the 24th minute with a powerful near-post header from a corner and striker Helder Postiga scored from close range in the 36th minute. Off the pitch, tension was growing between Russia and Poland over fighting in which police fired rubber bullets and tear gas and detained 184 people before the countries' Group A match in Warsaw on Tuesday. The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had told Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk by telephone that Warsaw bore "full responsibility" for fans' safety and Russia's Foreign Ministry blamed the violence on Polish fans. TOUGH PUNISHMENT The clashes were an embarrassment for Poland, which had until Tuesday presided over a mostly peaceful tournament with co-hosts Ukraine, and Warsaw apologised for the violence. Many Poles still resent decades of Soviet domination after World War Two and what they regard as Moscow's increasingly nationalistic tone. Poland promised tough punishment over the clashes, which began as Russian fans marched towards the stadium before the match which ended 1-1. Masked groups attacked the Russians, some of whom fought back, and both battled the police. Interior Minister Jacket Cichocki said the detained Russians would probably be expelled from Poland and banned from Europe's border-free Schneyer area for five years. "When it comes to our hooligans, I hope the prosecutors and especially the courts will be strict," he said. UEFA said it was determined the violence would not be repeated. A statement released by European soccer's governing body condemned the clashes but also implied that the police show of strength had been over the top. "UEFA's philosophy is to create a welcoming environment coupled with a low-profile approach to policing," it said. "UEFA is determined that the overwhelmingly peaceful and festive atmosphere that has so far pervaded UEFA Euro 2012 will be continued right up to and including the final in Kiev on Sunday July 1."

 Disabilities to Review Implementation of the Persons with Disablities Act, 1995 held Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri.Mukul Wasnik has urged States to appoint fulltime Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities and provide adequate staff and create necessary infrastructure for welfare and development of the disabled persons.

Addressing the 11th National Meeting of State Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities here today, Shri Wasnik said that the status of implementation of the existing Persons with Disabilities Act across the country is skewed and uneven. This is attributable to a variety of reasons including absence of full time Commissioners disabilities with independent charge at a state level. He said that his Ministry would extend all possible support in creating barrier free environment in States and UTs.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that the Ministry is working on a new legislation for the empowerment of persons with disabilities in line with the UN Convention. He said that a Committee has been already constituted comprising of stakeholders, experts, some State Governments and Union Ministries, etc. to draft a new legislation to replace the present Act. The Committee submitted its Report; including a draft Bill called The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill. We are examining the Bill in consultation with 17 concerned Central Ministries and Departments. The Bill has also been discussed in a meeting of the Central Coordination Committee, a statutory forum set up under the existing Persons with Disabilities Act, on 12th November last.

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri D. Napolean said that State Commissioners for Disabilities should play proactive role in ensuring that all children with disabilities are covered under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. During the meeting he suggested to establish Disability University, special recruitment wing for differently abled persons, disability rehabilitation department, fully equipped early intervention center in every district and time slot on all national media for broadcasting programmes related to disability.

Earlier making a presentation Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities Shri P.K Pincha said that all States have constituted the State Coordination Committees and State Executive Committees under the Persons with Disability Act, 1995 which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier-free environment, social security etc. However, regular meetings of these committees are not held. 14 States such as Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have appointed full time Commissioners. A total 35 States have constituted Medical Boards in each district to facilitate issue of disability certificates. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has identified more than 2366 jobs(Group A-785,Group B-254,Group C-1112 and Group D-251) including IAS and other Central Services for the disabled. 24 States /UTs have amended building by laws or issued instruction for creating a barrier free environment.

Secretary to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri K.M Acharya was also present during the meeting. State Commissioners for Disabilities from 26 States and UTs are participating in the 2-day meeting to review the implementation of PWD Act. Representatives from Central apex organisations including Rehabilitation Council of India, National Trust, National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation and National Institutes for different disabilities are participating in the meeting organised by the Chief Commissioners of Disabilities.

Mario Monti:Italy does not need EU help

Italy does not need any bailout from its European partners, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday said in parliament.”We wanted to show with actions in our country that we do not need the paralyzing protection of others,” Monti said during a Senate briefing.
He said the pressure on the Italian debt will abate if the EU could adopt measures such as “serious public investment…, and if there will be explicit steps towards the construction of Eurobonds or stability bonds, or the redemption fund.”
In his view, these measures would not need to become operational this year, but must “not be excluded from the table.”Italy and Europe as a whole were in a “reinforced situation compared to some months ago,” Monti said, adding that there will be “moments of opinion exchange with U.S. President Barack Obama who is following with understandable interest and concern the eurozone dynamics” before the EU summit on June 28.”If the EU Council of June 28 produces a credible package of measures for growth, then the Italian spread will decrease,” he said.
In fact, “what worries financial markets and rating agencies is the lack of growth, which worries us too,” Monti added.”If we restart growing, we will pay a lower spread, interest rates will fall, companies will be facilitated in the investment and this will shelter us from infection,” he said.
In an interview with the Turin-based La Stampa newspaper on Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble also said “Rome is not in danger,”but called on the country to “remain firmly on the road taken by the Monti’s government.”Media agencies

Clinton:Progress in U.S.-India relations

 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday highlighted the progress made in the U.S.- India relations in areas including trade, investment and nuclear energy.
At a press conference after the annual U.S.-India strategic dialogue, Clinton said the “strategic fundamentals” of the relationship are pushing the two countries’ interests into “closer convergence”.”Today there is less need for dramatic breakthrough that marks earlier phases in our relationship, but more need for steady, focused cooperation aimed at working through our differences and advancing the interests and values that we share,” said Clinton, alongside Indian Minister of External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna.
Since he took office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to build a strong partnership with India. However, some observers believe the relationship has been overstated.
Clinton cited the preliminary deal signed by Westinghouse Electric and India’s Nuclear Power Corporation on Tuesday to build nuclear reactors in India, as progress in civil nuclear energy.The agreement committed both companies to work toward the preliminary licensing and site development work needed to begin construction of new reactors in Gujarat, a western state of India.
Despite “a lot of work” that still needs to be done, Clinton hailed it as a “significant step toward the fulfillment of the landmark U.S.-India nuclear agreement.”
Some in America have complained that the nuclear agreement signed during the Bush administration in 2008 has been so radically altered by India’s parliament that U.S. businesses may be frozen out of the market.
On the economic front, Clinton said on Wednesday morning that the bilateral trade and investment may exceed 100 billion U.S. dollars this year, a 40 percent growth since 2009.”There’s a lot of room, however, for further growth, and we need to keep up the momentum,” she noted, adding that Washington looks forward to further reduce barriers to trade and investment in areas like multi-brand retail.
In November last year, Indian government changed its plan on allowing multi-national corporations like Wal-Mart to access its retail sector, fueling frustration among the American business community.
On security and defense cooperation, Clinton said bilateral defense trade has surpassed eight billion dollar over the last five years, which is a great progress.
Clinton  mentioned other progress areas such as education, people-to-people ties and the handling of Iran’s disputed nuclear program.For his part, Krishna said the two countries were making tangible and continuous progress on areas from trade to energy to higher education.

EU Urges China To Protect Tibetans’ Human Rights, Allow Access To Foreign Media

 

RTTNews: The European Union has called upon the Chinese authorities to ensure that human rights of the Tibetan people are respected, including their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as well as to enjoy their own culture to practice their own religion and to use their own language.
 
The call was made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton while addressing the European Parliament on Tuesday.
 
The EU also urged the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint and to allow access by foreign diplomats and journalists to all Tibetan autonomous areas.
 
Following the last meeting between the Chinese authorities and the envoys of the Dalai Lama in early 2010, the EU strongly supported resumption of dialogue between all parties in order to contribute to a durable solution.
 
The EU believes that this dialogue can contribute to improvement of the human rights situation of the Tibetan people, Ashton said.
 
The High Representative said European Union was concerned by the deterioration of the situation in Tibet, as illustrated by the wave of self-immolations and by clashes between the police and the local population since the beginning of the year.
 
In recent days, the EU has been particularly concerned by the news of mass arrests and detentions taking place in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) following self-immolations in Lhasa, as well as at reports that the TAR has been closed to foreigners.
 
Some 37 self-immolations of Tibetans have occurred in China since 2011. The incidents have been concentrated in Sichuan province but have also taken place in other Tibetan-populated areas where increasing restrictions on religious activities seem to have given rise to a surge of frustration and new protests among Tibetans.
 
Over the last three years, an increasing number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have faced criminal charges or been imprisoned. Ashton told the MEPs that EU was worried about restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity and freedom of expression in Tibet.
 
The EU has taken note that the five-year plans adopted by the Chinese authorities in January and March 2011 include an expansion of hydropower, railways, mining and tourism across the Tibetan plateau. The EU welcomed China’s wish to raise the living standards of the Tibetan population.
However, there are reports of growing discontent among Tibetans regarding local development policies and of protests against mining and hydro-electric projects. The EU supports the wish of the Chinese authorities to better protect the environment in China.
 
Nevertheless, it is most concerned about the impact of the resettlement policy of Tibetan nomads. Tibetan culture and traditional lifestyles are based on a nomadic way of life. While taking note of the Chinese authorities’ commitment that the resettlement of nomads is intended to preserve the Tibetan grasslands, the EU questions whether the objective of environmental protection can only be reached by eliminating the traditional way of life of Tibetans who have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. The EU is concerned that compulsory resettlement of all nomads has the potential to destroy the distinctive Tibetan culture and identity.
 
Ashton said that the EU is also worried by the impact of the policy to make Mandarin Chinese the primary language of instruction in Tibetan schools, as in schools in other minority-populated areas. Several hundreds of students protested against the reform of the education system to promote education in Chinese rather than in Tibetan in Qinghai province.
 
The EU is also concerned about the intensification of restrictions on religious activities in Tibet, including quotas of monks and nuns who may reside at a monastery and measures limiting their travel between different areas.
 
Ashton recalled that all these issues were raised at the EU-China human rights dialogue on May 29.

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