ICT attended the UN Durban Review Conference in Geneva from 20-24 April. The Durban Review looks at global issues of racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.

As the only Tibetan NGO accredited to the conference, ICT was able to make an oral statement on aspects of intolerance and discrimination in Tibet, as well as deliver a written statement outlining key issues contributing to discrimination in Tibet, and possible ways to tackle the problem.

You can read the oral statement below, and read ICT’s written statement here raquo;

Durban Review Conference

20-24 April, 2009
Item 9: General Debate

Statement by Ms. Tsering Jampa on behalf of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)

Mr. President, the International Campaign for Tibet, the only Tibetan NGO accredited to the Durban Review Conference, notes with interest the remarks of Ambassador Li Baodong to this Conference that “China is ready to work will all governments and the civil society to create a world free of discrimination, hatred, fear and prejudice.” The question now is whether there is a political will to change the ground realities.

On 16 April, Qiaga Tashi Tsering from Nankai University, a Tibetan blogger, wrote a piece titled, “A Day of Pain” in which he described how he personally experienced a racist situation in Beijing:

“On April 12, my girlfriend from my hometown came to see me and we went to Beijing. By the time we got to Beijing it was already gone six in the evening and so we went to find somewhere to stay. As soon as we got to the hotel, their service was extremely friendly and I said at the time to my girlfriend: “This is the capital city of the motherland, and so of course the levels of service are going to be high.” But as we were registering, the receptionist said something that pained me deeply. She said, “Tibetans can’t stay here.” At the time I didn’t want to believe my ears and so I picked up my student’s ID and showed it to them again but they still wouldn’t let me stay, saying that they needed certification from the local police. I went to seven or eight different hotels but they all gave the same answer. Angry and disappointed, the only question going round my head was “why?”

Mr. President, the situation in Tibet has frequently been raised at various UN Conferences and forum on Human Rights, including CERD, and by concerned governments and NGOs. The Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in his report of December 2002 indicated to the Chinese authorities that Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) suffer various forms of systematic and institutional discrimination in the fields of employment, health care, education, housing and public representation.

On political representation, the Special Rapporteur said that:

“Although laws guarantee Tibet self-government, Tibetans’ governing power is very restricted and is subject to strict supervision and authorization by the central authority.”

Mr. President, for Tibetans in present-day China, the intensification of repression from the State in response to widespread popular protests since March 2008 has led some Tibetans to liken this period to the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. They are witnessing a deliberate and concerted effort of incitement by the Chinese authorities to portray Tibetans as suspicious, ungrateful, violent and anti-Chinese or even “terrorists”, a situation which they argue entrenches mutual distrust, drives the two communities further apart and of course, makes a sustainable solution to the Sino-Tibetan problem all the more elusive.

In conclusion, Mr. President, we welcome the Outcome Document, which urges all member States to “address with greater resolve and political will all forms and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in all spheres of life and in all parts of the world, including all those under foreign occupation (paragraph 5)”. The tragedy for millions of Tibetans is that they have suffered and continue to suffer under an oppressive occupation and the hard-line policies of the Chinese government since 1949-50. This human situation should not be forgotten by the international community.

I thank you, Mr. President.