Hyslop urged to cancel trip to China amid Tibet violence
FIONA Hyslop, the education secretary, is likely to push ahead with a planned trip to China, despite appeals for her to cancel in protest at the Chinese government's suppression of unrest in Tibet.
Ms Hyslop is due to travel to China next month to help foster better links with the Chinese ministry of education.
Tavish Scott, a senior Liberal Democrat MSP, yesterday urged her to reconsider in light of the situation in Tibet.
He said: "These are not normal times and normal plans cannot just go ahead.
"I urge Fiona Hyslop to make a stand and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."
Mr Scott, the Lib Dems finance spokesman and Shetland MSP, added: "I have written to the education secretary appealing to her to abandon her visit until this crisis is resolved satisfactorily.
"It cannot be right for the international community to go as if nothing is happening.
"We cannot turn a blind eye while pro-democracy campaigners are being brutally attacked by government forces."
The recent trouble in Tibet began last Monday, coinciding with the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Protests were initially led by Buddhist monks, but have since escalated to include large numbers of ordinary Tibetans.
Human rights watchers fear that the crackdown against protesters by security forces may become increasingly bloody.
The Tibetan government in exile said that 80 people were killed during days of violence in the capital Lhasa.
Champa Phunstok, Tibet's governor, said there were 13 civilian deaths on Friday – previously the official figure was ten.
Mr Scott last night described the reports of violence in Lhasa as "distressing".
And while ministerial visits to China have taken place regularly since 1999, Mr Scott said a trip was not "appropriate at this time given the actions of the Chinese government in Tibet".
He added: "Now is the time for every supporter of democracy to send a clear message to the government of China that this violence must stop and China must respect the rights of the people of Tibet to self-determination.
"Fiona Hyslop has the opportunity, on behalf of her government and the parliament of Scotland, to send a very clear message by postponing her visit."
Last night, a spokesman for Ms Hyslop said that the Scottish Government would listen to the views of the Tibetan government in exile before taking a final decision.
So far, the Tibetan authorities in exile have asked visitors to go to China but to raise human rights concerns when they get there.
The Scottish Government spokesman said this was the most likely course of action for Ms Hyslop.
He added: "The Scottish Government stresses human rights concerns in all meetings with the Chinese authorities, and intends to continue doing so in relation to (the education secretary's] engagements next month."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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