In July 2001, a Report (www.icare.to) by the Tibetan Government in Exile’s (TGIE) was submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) with respect to the Tibetan people. The Report addresses issues relevant to Tibet in light of China’s Eighth and Ninth Periodic Report and evidence regarding the actual situation in Chinese-occupied Tibet.
The breadth of the Committee’s concerns and approach to the causes and consequences of racial discrimination are appropriate and consistent with the experience of the Tibetan people. The Report demonstrates that discrimination by the Chinese government and people against the Tibetan people is both a cause and a consequence of: the occupation of Tibet by a foreign power; the continuing population transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet; efforts to exploit Tibet’s natural resources for the benefit of China; and the perceived need to assimilate Tibetans culturally in order to control them politically.
The Report demonstrates that racial discrimination affects Tibetans in education, employment, health care, and public representation. The Report concludes that Tibetans’ access to each of these four areas is generally restricted, particularly when compared with the experiences of the Chinese people, especially settlers in Tibet
This Report also offers a number of recommendations for eradicating racial discrimination against Tibetans by the Chinese government and private citizens.
We welcome that on 9 August, 2001, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its concluding observations (CERD/C/59/Misc.16/Rev.3) on China’s Eighth and Ninth Report expressed concern “about continuous reports of discrimination with regard to the right to education in minority regions, with particular emphasis on Tibet.
Also in connection with the Third World Conference Against Racism two new reports have highlighted the key issues regarding racial discrimination in Chinese-occupied Tibet. See Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) Report on Racial Discrimination, and the International Campaign for Tibet’s Report “Jampa – the Story of Racism in Tibet.”
Racism exists in all countries, and China is no exception. The Chinese government often denies that racism exists in China, but evidence shows that racism is a significant and widespread problem in China that is receiving scant attention by the Chinese government. Chinese racism is not limited to Tibetans, however. Uighurs, Mongolians and other non-Chinese Asians, especially South Asians, and Blacks from Africa experience extreme forms of racism.
Foreign Occupation, Alien Domination and Colonialism
A number of draft clauses refer to foreign occupation and colonialism as causes or manifestations of racism and discrimination. We support these references. Peoples suffering under foreign occupation, alien domination and colonialism today cannot be ignored by the III World Conference Against Racism.
Tibetans today are under a form of colonialism (See UNPO Report “China’s Tibet: the World’s Largest Remaining Colony”). As the Declaration states, colonialism creates the conditions for and
promotes racism and racial discrimination. It can also be an expression of racism: the need for a ‘superior’ people to rule an ‘inferior people,’ to “help” and to “civilize” it.
However, the Declaration in this respect dwells too much in the past. Colonialist attitudes still are very prevalent also in the treatment of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world. History and experience has demonstrated that it is not possible to eradicate racism and discrimination arising from related intolerances in these situations without first achieving decolonisation, and an end to the foreign occupation.
Population Transfer and Other Forms of Demographic Manipulation
Closely related to the issue of colonialism, conquest, foreign occupation and alien domination is the issue of population transfer. We support language recognizing that population transfer in the context of colonization is a source and cause of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Demographic manipulation, the transfer of people from one territory to another for political purposes, is very similar to the ethnic cleansing or religious cleansing policies referred to a number of times in the Declaration and Programme of Action (See PP30). The object is to change the ethnic composition of the population of a territory in order to achieve a political objective, usually related to greater political and administrative control. This is what is happening in Tibet. It is discriminatory by its very nature and encourages people to think in racially discriminatory ways. These policies also have very discriminatory effects. In Tibet this is obvious in housing and employment policies but also in the restriction on freedom of movement: The Chinese are treated preferentially in these spheres in order to encourage them to move to Tibet. Once they have moved, they form an exclusive community which, due to its links with the dominant “colonialist” rulers of Tibet entrenches its privileged position vis-a vis the “native” and often hostile Tibetan population.
Discrimination in Decision-Making
We support paragraphs which specifically address discrimination in decision-making processes. Tibetans are not given sufficient access to decision-making positions. While a few Tibetans are allowed to hold political positions in the Chinese administration, the system/government is run primarily by the Communist Party of China. Almost none of the important positions within the Communist party in Tibet are held by Tibetans.
Discrimination Against Religious Groups
We welcome that several provisions of the Declaration specifically refer to discrimination as it relates to suppression and persecution of religious groups. This is obviously also of direct relevance to Tibet, where violations of the freedom of religion are rampant today.
Tibet in the Declaration of the WCAR NGO Forum
The final Declaration of the WCAR NGO Forum recognized “institutionalized forms of racial discrimination,” in Tibet and the “illegal population transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet as one aspect of the colonial occupation and a further cause of the racial discrimination against the Tibetan people.” It also stated: “The monocultural and hegemonic practices of the Chinese government, through the school system and through other state institutions has caused forced integration and assimilation and deprived the Tibetan people of their fundamental human rights.”
Tibetans suffer from widespread, systematic racial discrimination in the classroom, the workplace, medical care centers and at the ballot box. This racial discrimination clearly has had an adverse impact on Tibetans’ daily lives and continues to threaten their future cultural existence. The TGIE urges the III World Conference Against Racism to note that Tibet is a de facto colony of China and the Tibetan people are continually denied their right to self-determination by the Chinese authorities. Such factors place the problem of racial discrimination and related intolerances in Tibet in a category that warrants extra scrutiny by the international community.