The State Department’s 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices show that in Tibet, the Chinese authorities have committed “significant” human rights violations, including unlawful or arbitrary killings; disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest or detention; transnational repression against individuals located in another country; and restricting religious freedom and “effectively placing Tibetan Buddhism under central government control.”
These violations show the need to resolve the Tibet-China conflict, which has led to massive Chinese oppression of the Tibetan people, the International Campaign for Tibet said today, March 21, 2023.
“The horrific abuse of Tibetans documented in the State Department report shows why the Tibet-China conflict needs an urgent resolution,” said ICT, an advocacy group that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people. “In addition to subjecting Tibetans to religious freedom restrictions, political imprisonment and even unlawful killings, China’s government is violating one of Tibetans’ most basic human rights: the right to self-determination.
“It is only through a negotiated agreement between Chinese leaders and the Dalai Lama’s envoys that this destructive conflict can come to an end, and the Tibetan people can once again live safely and freely in their own land.”
The reports, released March 20, 2023, list a range of major human rights violations in Tibet, which China has illegally occupied for over 60 years.
Human rights violations in Tibet
According to the report, human rights issues under Chinese rule in Tibet included credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by the government. extrajudicial killings by the government; political prisoners; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including censorship; serious restrictions on internet freedom including site blocking; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief; severe restrictions on freedom of movement; the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on political participation; serious acts of government corruption; coerced abortion or forced sterilization; and violence or threats of violence targeting Indigenous persons.
There were also an unknown number of Tibetans detained, arrested or sentenced to prison for their political or religious activities. The report notes that ICT documented Chinese authorities’ sentencing of six Tibetan writers and former political prisoners in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture to between four and 14 years on politically motivated charges of “inciting separatism” and “endangering state security.”
The report also says China interfered in Tibetans’ rights to privacy, free expression, internet freedom, peaceful assembly, freedom of association, religious freedom and more.
No choice of leaders
But China didn’t stop its abuses at Tibet’s borders. According to the report, China committed “transnational repression” against the about 150,000 Tibetans living outside Tibet. This included threats and harassment online, phishing and hacking attacks, and monitoring by the Chinese government.
Chinese consulates also allegedly collected data from Tibetans applying for visas so they could use that information to identify and target Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. China also compelled Tibetans living under its rule to pressure family members seeking asylum overseas to return home.
Despite these numerous abuses, “[i]mpunity for violations of human rights was pervasive,” the report says.
Under China’s control, Tibetans had no way to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections.
“Citizens could not freely choose the officials who governed them,” the report says, “and the CCP continued to control appointments to positions of political power.”
Read the State Department’s 2022 Tibet Human Rights Report.
The report on Tibet is part of a group of reports the State Department released March 20 on human rights in nearly 200 countries and territories around the globe. “Some of the reports highlight record violations and abuses that are appalling in their scale and severity,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement.
The report is one of several recent publications sharing disturbing news about Tibet.
On March 9, Freedom House ranked Tibet as the least-free country on Earth with South Sudan and Syria in the watchdog group’s annual global freedom scores. It was the third year in a row that Tibet shared the bottom spot in the rankings.
A few days earlier, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said the only three journalists in its 2022 survey who applied to enter the Tibet Autonomous Region—which spans most of western Tibet—had their requests denied by the Chinese government. The TAR is the only region China requires foreign journalists to get special permission to visit. The Chinese government also restricts access to all of Tibet for foreign journalists, diplomats and tourists.
Resolve Tibet Act
The State Department report also arrived one week before Tibet Lobby Day 2023, an annual event that will bring nearly 150 Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters to Washington, DC on March 27-28 to meet with their members of Congress and Congressional staff.
The event, organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, will focus on building support for the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., reintroduced in Congress last month.
Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill will pressure China to resume negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys to peacefully resolve the conflict between the two sides through dialogue.
The bill will recognize that Tibetans have a right to self-determination, and that China’s policies preclude them from exercising that right.