China’s report fails to acknowledge human rights violations in Tibet

China is being forced to defend its mistreatment of Tibetans as its human rights record goes under the world’s microscope on October 22 through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations (UN).

“China’s report to the UN pretends that there are no widespread and systematic human rights violations occurring in Tibet, despite being well documented by objective observers,” said Kai Muller, Executive Director ICT Germany, who will be in Geneva for the China UPR session. “China’s failure to admit it has a serious problem undermines its credibility at the UN, and is an obstacle to human rights progress. We applaud other nations on the Human Rights Council for accurately representing China’s record.”

The UN and several countries have been challenging China’s attempts to portray its policies in Tibet as benign. The report issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) notes that she urged China in November 2012 to address the long-standing grievances that had led to self-immolations in Tibetan areas. Advance questions to China submitted by the delegates from the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, and Canada challenge China on whether it has stopped torture and restrictions on religious and cultural practice in Tibet, why it does not allow open access to Tibetan areas, and when it will re-open dialogue with the Tibetans. The questions are available on the OHCHR website.

Under the UPR process, China’s record on human rights is subject to ‘peer review’ by other nations at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). China reports on what actions it has taken to improve the human rights situation in the country.

An analysis by ICT finds that China’s report to the Council ignores the wide range of human rights problems in Tibetan areas that have been documented by the UN, the U.S. and other governments. Instead, China’s report resorts to false platitudes, claiming it is “fully respecting freedom of religious belief in ethnic regions In Tibet.”

ICT and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) have issued a joint report to inform the UPR process entitled, “Chinese Crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism.” FIDH and ICT will also hold an event on the sidelines of the official process in Geneva. At the event on Monday the 21st ICT will discuss the “Challenges to Civil Society by China’s Security Laws,” especially in the context of Tibet.

Note for editors

The UPR is a unique UN process, which involves a review of the human rights records of all Member States. It is a state-driven process under the auspices of the HRC where a country under review declares the actions it is taking to improve human rights conditions. Other states propose recommendations on how the state under review can fulfill its human rights obligations under international law. The state under review can accept or reject the recommendations.

China was reviewed for the first time in 2009. In that review, China accepted 50 recommendations and rejected 42. For the current review, China is reporting on what steps it has taken to implement the recommendations it accepted. Despite rejecting most recommendations specifically mentioning Tibet, China has reported on Tibet within the recommendations dealing with ‘minorities.’

China’s review will take place on October 22 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm (Geneva time). Other states will ask oral questions for China to answer. China would then respond to questions and discuss the adoption of a new report on the 24th. The final review report will be adopted on the 25th.

In the weeks prior to the UPR, Chinese human rights defenders have been prevented by the Chinese government from traveling to Geneva.