Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson told parliament yesterday that he fully intends to discuss China’s human rights policy when the country’s premier, Wen Jiabao, visits later this week.
RÚV reports that Þór Saari, an MP for The Movement, raised the issue in parliament by bringing up China’s human rights abuses, in particular against the Tibetan people. He pointed out that 11 monks and nuns have set themselves on fire since 2011 in protest to China’s policy, and that Chinese security forces killed six and wounded sixty other protesters earlier this year. It was also mentioned that Movement MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir will be visiting the Dalai Lama next week, and thus it would be important for Iceland to show a unified front on this matter.
Össur said that while the schedule of Wen’s visit has not been fully worked out, “I consider it quite certain that at some point during the visit human rights will be discussed.” He pointed out that when he visited China last year, he brought up human rights then as well.
Win Jiabao, for his part, is seen by observers both domestic and foreign as something of a populist. While he believes the Dalai Lama himself incites separatist violence, he wrote in 2007, “Science, democracy, rule of law, freedom and human rights are not concepts unique to capitalism. Rather, they are common values pursued by mankind in the long historical process and they are the fruits of human civilization. It is only that at different historical stages and in different countries, they are achieved through different means and in different forms.”