EU must take action against China and Pakistan for human rights violations

| Updated: Mar 08, 2017 21:15 IST

Brussels [Belgium], Mar. 8 (ANI): Highlighting the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) presenting an ethical dilemma for the international community, Fulvio Martusciello, Member of the European Parliament, has called on the European Union to have an action-based approach when it comes to CPEC and the Chinese-Pakistani "disregard for human rights". In an article for EP Today, Martusciello notes that the governments of Pakistan and China have strong incentives to protect their investments and ensure those who oppose the project are silenced, as it runs through contested regions of Tibet, Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. "CPEC is only a fraction of Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative, connecting the European and Chinese markets. OBOR has the potential to affect 65 countries and provides a vast opportunity for the strengthening of free trade agreements. The project, though not unethical in principle, has increased tensions between China and a number of neighbouring states. Human rights activists are sceptical of OBOR for the same reasons as they're apprehensive about CPEC: when huge sums of money are involved, the rights of marginalized groups are often eroded," the article reads. Further opining that European Union tries to pass of the image of claiming to take their human rights obligations seriously, Martusciello further asserts that within the Union, debate about the rights of minorities, migrants and the underprivileged is on-going, however, when it comes to trade deals, the EU appears to be content turning a blind eye to the behaviors of its partners. "CPEC runs through Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, both regions universally understood to be Pakistan-occupied territories. Gilgit-Baltistan has been occupied since 1947, when a British-supported military coup led to Pakistani control. Through a variety of unilateral presidential decrees, Pakistan governs Gilgit-Baltistan by force; barring the natives from accessing legal resources and curbing any public dissent. Similarly, the disputed region of AJK is an epicenter of regional tensions. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported on grave human rights abuses in both regions. From the arbitrary arrests and the torture of political prisoners to the suspicious disappearances of human rights activists, there seems to be no end to what the powerful Pakistani military will do to maintain governance," the MEP states. Coming down heavily on the Pakistan Government over the project of the Diamer Bhasha Dam in connection with the CPEC, Martusciello emphasizes that the proposed site would ensure the displacement of over 30,000 people, as at least 32 villages will be flooded but Pakistan continues the construction claiming the project will provide jobs and other opportunities for Gilgit-Baltistan locals. "In November, I submitted a question to the EU Parliament asking if the Union was ready to stand-up to Pakistan's illegal occupation of Gilgit-Baltisan. Vice-President Mogherini's response was vague and ambiguous, claiming that the EU is "fully aware" of the legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan and believes "the issue can only be resolved through dialogue." The EU has been similarly quiet on Tibet. After the 18th bilateral China-EU Summit, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, did not mention Tibet in any of his published remarks or letters; nor is Tibet mentioned on the Consilium web page," he said. Called on the European Union to remember that "dialogue" is not a clear solution as it is propagated to be, as it is often used as a means of appeasing the public and distracting policy-makers from real issues, Martusciello stressed that "dialogue" has been on-going in Gilgit-Baltisan since 1947, and yet the people are still occupied, adding that India and Pakistan have been in "dialogue" about Kashmir for decades. "Perhaps it is time for the EU to move past dialogue. When it comes to CPEC and the Chinese-Pakistani disregard for human rights, the EU must have an action-based approach," the MEP states. (ANI)