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Experts refute Western criticism of Tibet's human rights
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16:00, April 23, 2008

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Human rights experts, both foreign and domestic, have refuted Western criticism of human rights in China's Tibet.

Speaking at the Beijing Forum on Human Rights that opened here on Monday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many experts said the often-exaggerated claims were misleading and showed a complete ignorance of Tibet's history and today.

Guruswamy Mohan, president of the Center for Policy Alternatives of New Delhi, visited Tibet for one week last year and said he enjoyed the experience.

The Indian scholar noted the daily life of Tibetans appeared prosperous and the development and improving infrastructure was impressive.

"I don't think foreign countries should interfere in affairs of other countries. It has been the Indian policy. This is a problem between some Tibetan people and Chinese authorities," he said on Tuesday. "Other countries should not have a role in it. It is something that is the internal affairs of China.

"Human rights become a sword behind many people in the West to hit developing countries. But what about human rights in Iraq when you killed civilians and cause damage. There is no consideration of human rights."

Sherab Nyima, the Central National University of China vice president, echoed Mohan's comments. "Given the Dalai clique's usual practice, we are not surprised to see the Western criticism of China's human rights record after the March 14 riot."

"For a long time, 'human rights' has been the tool exploited by some Westerners to attack China.

"Some Westerners, on one side, beautify the image of the Dalai Lama and praise his non-violent protest. On the other side, they continue to press and require China to hold dialogue with the Dalai and resume 'human rights in Tibet.'

"These Western anti-Chinese forces' interests in Tibet's human rights issue are absolutely not from their sympathy for Tibetan people but due to the power politics and hegemony they preach," Sherab Nyima stressed.

Currently, Tibetans enjoyed unprecedented civil and political rights that weren't possible in the "old dark ages," he said.

Before 1959, a year when the Dalai Lama fled to India and China implemented democratic reforms in the region, Tibet had long been a feudal serf society. It integrated religion with politics, in which monks and the nobles practiced a dictatorship. Three of the largest feudal lords and their tribes owned all the farmland, ranches, forests and most of the livestock.

The Tibetan serfs, in contrast, accounted for more than 90 percent of the population in the old Tibet but they had no land, freedom or democracy.

"At present, Tibetans have all the equal rights prescribed by existing Chinese laws and they do have some privilege under the regional ethnic autonomy," Sherab Nyinma said.

In 2007, the income of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen reached 2,788 yuan (404 yuan), up 14.5 percent over 2006 and up 83.8 percent over 2002. At the same time, the growth rate was seven percentage points higher than the average growth of China, according to official figures.

Sirkka Korpela, a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University, expressed her hope that more people could come to China. She believed the lack of correct information had lead to misunderstanding.

"Human rights in China is actually quite well-developed because poverty has been diminished in such an impressive way. China is a country in the world that has most contributed to the eradication of poverty."

The New York-based scholar said her wish was that more people would have a chance to come to China to see for themselves.

"I know this wish will be fulfilled to a big extent during the Olympic Games. People can come and see how the country has developed, how beautiful Beijing is and how much Chinese people enjoy all aspects of rights.

"The ignorance and the lack of information that we often have in the Western countries is the cause of much of these conflicts. If people can come to meet each other and see each other, they will have a better understanding of different countries and cultures."

She cited Tibet as an example and the lack of information, knowledge and ignorance among many countries for the misinformation.

"If they come and see Tibet and its development, they will have a better idea. This has been a very good example of how ignorant people are given very one-sided stories. They have no way of knowing the truth."

Over 110 representatives from 32 countries and international organizations attended the Beijing forum.

Source: Xinhua

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