Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, is visiting China from 4 to 10 December. Following talks in Beijing, she will chair the German-Chinese Human Rights Dialogue in Lhasa, Tibet on 6 and 7 December. This was last held in Germany in 2016. In 2017, China cancelled the bilateral dialogue. After the Human Rights Dialogue, Dr Kofler will join the delegation of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is currently on a state visit to China, in Beijing.
Prior to her departure, the Human Rights Commissioner issued the following statement today (4 December):
I believe it is important for a regular, close and direct exchange with the Chinese Government to take place. That is the only way that we will be in a position to openly discuss issues on which we disagree. I am therefore pleased that, after a one-year break, a bilateral Human Rights Dialogue is once again taking place as a central dialogue format in our close relations with the People’s Republic of China.
I am deeply concerned about the human rights situation in China. It has become even more serious in recent years. This is particularly affecting the critical voices in civil society – human rights lawyers, journalists and bloggers.
I am shocked by reports of the treatment of the Turkic Uighur minority, more than one million of whom are estimated to be imprisoned in internment camps in Xinjiang. Unfortunately, my request to travel to Xinjiang in the context of the Dialogue was refused. I would have liked to have gained a first-hand impression of the situation there and will continue to push for permission to visit Xinjiang soon.
The Human Rights Dialogue will now take place in Tibet. In view of the critical human rights situation in Tibet, this, too, is an appropriate place for our Dialogue. There are numerous reports of excessive controls, punishment of relatives for the crimes of family members, prohibition of normal religious freedom and “patriotic education” which give me great cause for concern.