HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention (General Debate)
Joint Statement read by Mr. Tenzin S. KAYTA
Thank you, Mr. President. We wish to recall the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities resolution 1991/10 entitled, “Situation in Tibet” adopted on 23 August 1991 in which the expert body alerted the international community and expressed “concerned at the continuing reports of violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms which threaten the distinct cultural, religious and national identity of the Tibetan people” and called upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China “fully to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people.”
While exercising their rights of assembly and free speech, many Tibetans lost their lives during the 2008 Uprisings on the Tibetan Plateau. In this respect the Committee Against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have urged the Chinese authorities to conduct investigations to bring those responsible to justice. However, the Chinese authorities continuously failed to provide the true information to the outside world. In its last follow-up communication to the Chinese authorities, the Committee said: “The State party should conduct a thorough and independent inquiry into the reported excessive use of force, including against peaceful demonstrators and notably monks, in Kardze county, Ngaba county and Lhasa. The State party should conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and should ensure that those responsible are prosecuted. The State party should ensure that all persons who were detained or arrested in the aftermath of the March 2008 events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties have prompt access to an independent lawyer and independent medical care and the right to lodge complaints in a confidential atmosphere, free from reprisal or harassment.”
Article 35 of China’s constitution guarantees right to freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration. However, in practice, the Chinese authorities have been targeting and harassing human rights defender, journalists and bloggers by using spurious and vague national security related charges to silence their critic views. To cite some example, on 2 June, Tashi Rabten, editor of banned literary magazine ‘Shar Dungri’ (Eastern Snow Mountain) was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of “inciting activities to split the nation” by the Ngaba Intermediatary People’s Court. Similarly, last December the same court sentenced three Tibetan writers namely Dhonkho and Buddha to four years and Kelsang Jinpa to three years respectively on similar charges. On 8 November 2008, Norzin Wangmo, a female cadre and writer from Ngaba (Chinse: Aba) was sentenced to 5 years for passing news through the phone and internet about the situation in her area after protests broke out.
On 8 June the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances urged Chinese authorities to provide full information on the fate and whereabouts of over 300 monks of the Ngaba Kirti Monastery who reportedly disappeared on 21 April after a military raid at the monastery. In its response, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said there had been “no such thing as enforced disappearance’’ of the monks. However, the spokesman admitted to have “conducting legal education” in the Kirti monastery but avoided the use of the words “patriotic reeducation” conducting by communist cadres. As the monks were being driven away in large trucks, the group of laypeople – mainly in their forties or older – who had been standing vigil at the monastery gate were beaten “mercilessly” by police according to sources. “People had their arms and legs broken, one old woman had her leg broken in three places, and cloth was stuffed in their mouths to stifle their screams” sources informed. Under such brutal crackdown, two elderly Tibetans namely Dongko, male, aged 60 and 65-year old Sherkyi died while attempting to prevent the monks from being taken away by the security forces.
The Chinese authorities have now closed “Tibet Autonomous Region” to outsiders for the second time this year including Tibetans from neighbouring provinces. We wonder why they need to carry out such a restriction if the situation is “normal”, as the Chinese authority always claims. Despite the brutal crackdown they face the Tibetan people continue to risk their lives in protests when, as recently as on 9 and 10 June, the monks and nuns staged protests alone or in small groups in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) TibetanAutonomousPrefecture calling for freedom and the return of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. “Within the last week alone, a total of 17 Tibetans have protested in Kardze’s downtown center,” a Tibetan resident of the town told RFA on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The whereabouts of these protesters again remain unknown.
Given this background, it becomes the responsibility of this Council to address chronic human rights situation faced by Chinese, Mongolians, Tibetans and Uyghurs under Communist China. In conclusion, we again urge the Chinese authorities to receive the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on a fact-finding mission that will include visits to Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang.
I thank you, Mr. President.
15 June 2011
Society for Threatened Peoples
International Educational Development