|Tibetans call attention to abuses at Geneva hearing, Beijing envoy admits human rights challenges
Tibetan protesters unfurled a massive banner at the UN headquarters in Geneva demanding the world address rights abuses by China, while a special envoy for Beijing's foreign ministry acknowledged that the country continues to face “many difficulties and challenges,’’ in promoting and protecting human rights.
Special envoy Wu Hailong told the UN Human Rights Council that too many people in China live under the poverty line or lack basic medical and health services, and that social programs are lagging for ethnic minorities.
Wu told the 47-nation council as it began reviewing China's record that nearly 100 million rural dwellers still live in poverty.
He said “it is simply beyond one's imagination, how daunting the task is and how many challenges China faces to promote and protect human rights.''
Wu said: “Unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remains an acute problem.’’
He also acknowledged that social programs lag “in parts of the ethnic minority regions'' and there was insufficient human rights “awareness'' among law enforcement personnel.
“We are soberly aware that China still faces many difficulties and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights,'' Wu said.
At dawn today, four protesters from the groups “Students for a Free Tibet'' and the “Tibetan Youth Association in Europe’’ climbed up scaffolding on the UN building, currently under renovation, before jumping down to the middle of the facade using climbing ropes.
They then unfurled a massive banner reading: “China human rights, UN stand up for Tibet,’’ and shouted: “Free Tibet!''
UN security cut down the banner and arrested the protesters. They also grabbed journalists' press accreditation and ushered them away.
“The protest went really great,'' Pema Yoko, the deputy director of Students for a Free Tibet, told AFP.
It was important to draw attention to Tibet's plight, she insisted, stressing that “we expect China to blatantly lie about their rights record in Tibet.''--AP/AFP