The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet should raise Tibet loud and clear, and she should condemn systematic human rights abuses in Tibet, while on her visit to China, the International Campaign for Tibet said today.

Bachelet began her controversial visit to China today, which is ironically the anniversary of the infamous 17 Point Agreement that the People’s Republic of China forced on Tibet in 1951, marking its formal annexation.

“As the high commissioner is not going to visit Tibet, which has been systematically shut off from independent scrutiny, raising Tibet with the Chinese government and being vocal about it is the absolute minimum we expect the high commissioner to do,” ICT stated.

“Governments, parliaments, civil society and even the UN’s own human rights experts have been speaking out on the worsening situation in Tibet. UN High Commissioner Bachelet has not. This has been hugely damaging to human rights advocacy on Tibet and has played into the cards of the Chinese Communist Party.

“The high commissioner, as a beacon for human rights, should see through the CCP’s tactics. Silencing the world on Tibet and silencing Tibetans themselves is one of the most important goals of the Party. The crisis in Tibet is thus not gone, it is just muted by the Chinese government. The high commissioner must break through this silence during her visit to China and after the visit at the United Nations.”

The Chinese government has developed a model of repression that is on track to erase Tibetan culture without international attention, concern or resistance, ICT added.

Great concerns

ICT has expressed great concern about the lack of transparency in Bachelet’s travel arrangements. Previously, numerous groups demanded clarification about the circumstances of her trip.

At the beginning of this month, ICT and over 220 other nongovernmental organizations urged Bachelet to postpone her trip to China “or risk walking into a propaganda minefield laid out by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Previous high commissioners have raised Tibet with Chinese leaders. Among them, High Commissioner Navi Pillay considered the gravity of the human rights situation in Tibet back in 2012 when she issued a statement saying, “I recognise Tibetans’ intense sense of frustration and despair which has led them to resort to such extreme means, but there are other ways to make those feelings clear. The Government also needs to recognise this, and permit Tibetans to express their feelings without fear of retribution.”

“Social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights,” Pillay continued. “Deep underlying issues need to be addressed, and I call on the Government to seriously consider the recommendations made to it by various international human rights bodies, as well as to avail itself of the expert advice being offered by the UN’s independent experts on human rights.”

Unlike her predecessors in office, Michelle Bachelet has not once spoken out about the egregious human rights situation in Tibet since she took office in 2018. There has been no visit to Tibet by a high commissioner in over 24 years, and none by a UN expert in 17.

Bachelet is expected to visit Xinjiang (known to Uyghurs as East Turkestan), although she has not secured any commitment from the Chinese government that she would have the freedom to decide her program there.