Deputy Tommy Broughan has today questioned the Minister Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, on his views in relation to movements for self-determination in Tibet and among the Uyghur nation of Central Asia following the Minister’s meeting with the Premier and Foreign Minister from China this past weekend.

Last weekend, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney and the Minister Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan met with the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, the Chinese Minister for Agriculture, Mr Han Changfu and Minister Flanagan’s counterpart, Mr Wang Yi in a visit to farms in the West of Ireland to discuss opening up the market following the lifting of the 15 year ban on EU beef. The Government hopes to strengthen business relationships between the 2 countries. However, Deputy Broughan asked that human rights violations be examined and investigated as relations improve between Ireland and the People’s Republic of China.

Tibet, a Buddhist country with millennia old strong cultural and religious traditions, has been part of the People’s Republic of China since 1959 and unrest in the region has been well documented, with the Dalai Lama becoming an international figurehead for the self-determination of Tibet. The lesser-known Uyghurs of the Xinjiang region (originally East Turkestan of Central Asia) are also suffering oppression as they are mainly an Islamic nation with strong ties to the Turkic peoples of Central Asia (and Turkey itself). Their culture and religion has also been repressed. A report from the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation states that “Uyghurs are subjected to compulsory unpaid labour in the construction of a pipeline planned to export local petroleum resources to other parts of China. Uyghurs also continue to be the only population in China consistently subjected to executions for political crimes, and these executions are often both summary and public”.

Deputy Broughan says “If we are going to strengthen business relations with the People’s Republic of China, we cannot do so by turning a blind eye to any human rights violations we know to be occurring. I am calling on Minister Flanagan and the Taoiseach to ensure, in our own centenary celebrations of independence, that they ask questions of their Chinese counterparts and to acknowledge and end the human rights abuses in both so-called ‘autonomous’ regions of Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur.”