Vincent Metten is EU Policy Director in Brussels for the International Campaign for Tibet, a pressure group promoting human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet.
"The new EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, takes office at a time of crisis in Tibet.
A wave of horrifying self-immolations have swept the Tibetan plateau, with more than 50 Tibetans including monks, students, a mother of two setting fire to themselves in response to China’s oppression. They want freedom and for the Dalai Lama to come home.
The time to act on Tibet is now. Sixty years of China's failed colonial policies in Tibet have led to a state of turmoil. A deepening crackdown only intensifies the dangers of more self-immolations. There has been no meeting between Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama since January 2010, and no prospect of such meetings resuming; indeed the Dalai Lama's envoys recently resigned their posts.
Welcoming Lambrinidis' appointment, the International Tibet Network, a global coalition of more than 185 campaign groups, has written asking him to make Tibet a major and immediate priority, and to fulfil the hopes of Tibetans in Tibet and their supporters in exile at this critical time of a greater level of multi-lateral engagement on the Tibet issue, and a strengthening of the EU's position on Tibet.
Network Member Groups have further requested Lambrinidis to commit to expressing the EU's serious concerns about the self-immolations and degradation in the human rights situation in Tibet with senior Chinese leaders, in Brussels and in China, including meeting Wen Jiabao during the course of his visit for the EU China Summit on 20 September in Brussels.
In addition, the International Campaign for Tibet has requested President Barroso and President Van Rompuy to raise Tibet with Prime Minister Wen in the course of the Summit and has also called on the Special Representative for Human Rights to issue public statements on behalf of the EU when serious violations of human rights occur in China, particularly in Tibet, and request that the Chinese authorities allow him access to Tibetan areas where self-immolations have taken place."