The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) condemns the government of People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) oppressive treatment of Michael Brand, a German lawmaker and advocate for human rights.
The PRC’s brazen attempts to censor the German politician drew harsh criticism from international onlookers and provided an example of China’s growing ambition to suppress human rights both at home and internationally.
TCHRD calls on the world community to oppose the PRC’s increasingly repressive behavior – both in Tibet and abroad – in defense of basic human rights.
Mr. Brand is the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag, the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany. He planned to travel to PRC with a delegation of Bundestag committee members later this month to assess the human rights situation in Tibet and China. On Wednesday, Mr. Brand experienced “massive pressure” from the Chinese ambassador to delete comments about Tibet from his website. When Mr. Brand refused to succumb to “repeated attempts at blackmail”, his visa to China was revoked.
Mr. Brand has urged that such behavior by an accredited ambassador to Germany should not be taken lightly. “We can’t just accept it when authoritarian regimes like China … carry out censorship and oppression, certainly not if they want to export these methods – and to Germany too.”
Germany, a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), respects and upholds the freedom of expression mandated under Article 19. As such, Mr. Brand characterized the actions of the Chinese ambassador as “absurd”, stating “self-censorship is out of the question.”
“Human rights are not an internal affair of the state of China,” noted Mr. Brand, who called on the German Foreign Minister to issue “a clear response to this unspeakable action.” A response by a PRC representative offered little reassurance of China’s policy toward free expression. “I can say for sure that China will not welcome such a man. I have to say that the Human Rights Committee of the Federal German Parliament is very unwise in issuing the statement and hurling accusations at China.”
Authoritarian efforts to suppress free expression in Tibet have burdened local Tibetans for decades. The Chinese government’s oppressive treatment of Mr. Brand provides yet another glimpse into its continuous efforts to suppress free speech in Tibet. As PRC grows more involved in global affairs, the international community will increasingly fall victim to the repressive tendencies of the PRC. In order to halt the onslaught of PRC’s human rights violations – in Tibet and Mainland China, and increasingly throughout world – TCHRD encourages global actors to join in condemning the recent treatment of Mr. Brand.