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China refuses entry to German human rights chair

May 11, 2016

Beijing has refused entry to the German lawmaker who chairs the parliament's Human Rights Committee. The decision comes after he reportedly criticized rights violations in Tibet.

CDU politician Michael Brand
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Brand

Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag Michael Brand said on Wednesday that the Chinese ambassador had tried to put "massive pressure" on him to delete comments about Tibet from his website.

"Self-censorship is out of the question," Brand said, describing the request from the Chinese ambassador as "absurd."

The Christian Democrat had intended to travel to Tibet with a parliamentary delegation in late May, his staff said.

'New low' for Chinese ambassador

Brand called on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to issue a "clear response to this unspeakable action of an accredited ambassador in Germany."

The Human Rights Committee has tried for many years to travel to China to get a view of the human rights situation in Tibet.

"While we've always been denied this, parliamentary committees for business and commerce have made trips to China with no problems," Brand criticized, adding that the Chinese ambassador to Germany had reached a "new low."

Tibet demonstration in Dharamsala
The worrying human rights situation in Tibet is a growing cause for concernImage: picture-alliance/dpa

"We can't just accept it when authoritarian regimes like China, Russia or Turkey carry out censorship and oppression, certainly not if they want to export these methods - and to Germany too," Brad said.

'Sign of weakness'

Ahead of Chinese-German government consultations, scheduled for June, the Christian Democrat said Berlin must set an example.

"When it comes to human rights, pussyfooting around doesn't pay off. Human rights are not an internal affair of the state of China," Brand said, adding that the travel ban against him and "repeated attempts at blackmail" by the ambassador were a sign of weakness.

"The reported attempts at blackmail and intimidation by the Chinese Embassy are symptomatic of Beijing's strategy to stop criticism of the worrying human rights situation in Tibet," said Kai Mueller, the head of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Repression and social marginalization

Tibet has been under Chinese control since 1950, with Tibetans repeatedly reporting religious repression and an increasing influx of Han-Chinese social marginalization in the homeland.

Following a failed uprising in 1959, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama, has lived in exile.

ksb/sms (AFP, dpa)