UN 'bans critics from human rights forum': Dalai Lama excluded after pressure from Peking

THE largest international human rights conference in 25 years, which begins in Vienna on Monday, was overshadowed yesterday by allegations that UN organisers were bowing to demands from governments to exclude critics.

Apparently under pressure from Peking, the United Nations has refused to allow the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, to take part as an official member. The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Mock, summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest against the ban. 'The Dalai Lama was invited by the Austrian government, and he is staying here as a guest of the government,' said Mr Mock. 'I summoned the Chinese ambassador and told him this.'

About 16 Sikh and Kashmiri human rights groups based in Britain, the United States and Canada have had invitations to the conference withdrawn, allegedly at India's insistence. The British, US and Canadian delegations yesterday protested to the UN about the decision, which one diplomat described as 'way out of order'. Graham Hand, head of the Foreign Office human rights department, said the delegations had complained that the UN had no authority to exclude the organisations, adding: 'We hope and believe that this will now be reversed.'

The Sikh Human Rights Group, based in Southall, Middlesex, received a letter on 21 May from Ibrahima Fall, secretary-general of the conference, inviting the organisation to participate as an observer. On 2 June, however, another letter, this time signed by John Pace, the conference co-ordinator, said: 'Our letter dated 21 May concerning an invitation to the World Conference on Human Rights was sent to your organisation due to administrative oversight. That letter may now be disregarded.' Jasdev Singh Rai, director of the group, said that when he telephoned Vienna to query the withdrawal, he was told by one of Mr Pace's staff that India had objected to the presence of his and several other human rights bodies.

Mr Pace told the Independent that he had whittled down the number of potential participants from around 18,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Mr Rai's group was among a small number which had been eliminated at a late stage, but whose names had inadvertently been left on a mailing list.

A Western diplomat dismissed this, saying the UN had asked governments for their comments on applications from NGOs based on their soil. 'Western countries all refused to comment, on the grounds that we were not going to bar anyone. The rules are quite clear. There is no discretion for the UN to exclude groups on its own initiative.'

Mr Pace said, however: 'We are trying to put together an environment in which governments can decide how to implement human rights. Certain groups who want to focus on the human rights situation in one country - outfits of a denunciatory nature - are not compatible with trying to achieve a regional or international approach. This is an inter-governmental meeting. We can't focus entirely on governments having to defend themselves.'

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballLive: Latest news from Champions League draw
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Scrum Master (Agile, Java, team recruitment)

£45000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Scrum M...

Junior Asset Manager

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Junior As...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Employability Tutor

£85 - £95 per hour: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education are looking f...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?