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Motion on deteriorating human rights conditions in Tibet

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I move the motion as amended:

The Senate-
(a) notes:
(i) the tragic deaths by self-immolation of four monks from the Kirti Monastery and one nun from the Dechen Chokorling nunnery, in Ngaba county eastern Tibet (Sichuan province) between 16 March and 17 October 2011, and
(ii) since March 2011, ten Tibetan people have set themselves on fire in order to highlight the continued human rights abuse and oppression of the Tibetan people;
(b) recognises:
(i) the people of Tibet continue to be subject to appalling human rights abuses, and
(ii) the Chinese authorities have continued to take repressive measures against monks and nuns, particularly of the Kirti Monastery, since the self-immolation of a monk in March this year; and
(c) calls on the Government to urge the Chinese Government to cease repressive measures against the Tibetan people and respect human rights in Tibet.

Senator LUDWIG (Queensland-Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (15:56): Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDWIG: I indicate that the government does not support this motion. The government does acknowledge the importance of public debate on foreign policy issues such as this but the government does not support dealing with complex foreign policy issues through the use of the Senate resolution process, which ultimately ends up a blunt instrument. However, we do share the Greens' concerns in relation to the human rights situation in Tibet and in relation to ethnic Tibetans. During the last Australia-China human rights dialogue the government urged China to address the underlying causes of ethnic tension in Tibet, noting that economic development must be complemented by protection of the unique linguistic, cultural and religious identities of China's minorities. The government continues to monitor closely the situation in the Tibetan autonomous region and the Tibetan regions in China and raise our concerns with China as appropriate.
The Australian government is, of course, deeply concerned by reports of self-immolations by monks and nuns in that province. While we do not condone this tragic and extreme form of protest, we have again called on China to address the underlying causes of tension in Tibet and other Tibetan regions in China. Australian officials last week made renewed representations in Canberra and in Beijing to Chinese counterparts about the reports. Our embassy in Beijing has also raised our concerns at reports of the continuing crackdown around the monastery in the province and of increased security measures throughout the Tibetan areas.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Hanson-Young's) be agreed to.

The Senate divided. [15:59]

(The Deputy President-Senator Parry)
Ayes ...................... 9
Noes ...................... 40
Majority ................ 31

AYES
Brown, RJ
Di Natale, R
Hanson-Young, SC
Ludlam, S
Milne, C
Rhiannon, L
Siewert, R (teller)
Waters, LJ
Wright, PL

NOES
Bernardi, C
Bilyk, CL
Birmingham, SJ
Boswell, RLD
Boyce, SK
Brown, CL
Cameron, DN
Cash, MC
Colbeck, R
Collins, JMA
Cormann, M
Edwards, S
Farrell, D
Faulkner, J
Fawcett, DJ
Feeney, D
Fifield, MP
Fisher, M
Furner, ML
Gallacher, AM
Heffernan, W
Johnston, D
Kroger, H
Ludwig, JW
Madigan, JJ
Marshall, GM
McEwen, A (teller)
McKenzie, B
McLucas, J
Moore, CM
Nash, F
Parry, S
Polley, H
Pratt, LC
Singh, LM
Stephens, U
Sterle, G
Thistlethwaite, M
Urquhart, AE
Williams, JR

Question negatived.

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