Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, delivered a statement on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the 28th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 11. He said “The Chinese government adopted a more pervasive approach to “patriotic education”, including measures to micromanage Tibetan Buddhist monastic affairs; “legal education” programs for monks and nuns; and a ban on images of the Dalai Lama.”
While in Geneva, Matteo Mecacci asked for support among the diplomatic community on Tibet related issues. He was accompanied by the ICT Head for UN Advocacy, Kai Mueller.
The statement and video (1 hour, 12 minute, 50 second mark) can be found below.
Human Rights Council
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue – Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
Statement delivered by Mr. Matteo Mecacci on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)
We wish to thank the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for his report. In particular, we commend the Special Rapporteur for stressing that in some cases States promote hatred against religious minorities through deliberate policies of religious discrimination.
The Special Rapporteur rightly pointed out that minorities are often “demonized as allegedly posing a dangerous threat to the long-term survival of the nation, or they are accused of being involved in clandestine conspiracies”. This is what systematically takes place in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with regard to Tibetan Buddhists, as China’s Criminal Law is used to prosecute individuals, whose religious activities are equated with “separatism”, leading to the fact that monks and nuns make up approximately 44% of the political prisoner population in Tibet.
The deteriorating environment for Tibetan Buddhism worsened significantly after the Tibetan protests of March 2008. The Chinese government adopted a more pervasive approach to “patriotic education”, including measures to micromanage Tibetan Buddhist monastic affairs; “legal education” programs for monks and nuns; and a ban on images of the Dalai Lama.
As stressed by the Special Rapporteur in his report, media play an important role in the incitement to religious hatred. This is even more evident in the case of authoritarian States where media are used to convey their propaganda. In the PRC, State media characterize patriotic education campaigns in Tibet as necessary means to guide “Tibetan Buddhism to keep in line with the socialist society”.
In January 2012, a new policy of stationing Party officials in monasteries was announced. This measure requires an unelected “Management Committee” to be installed in every monastery, particularly in influential centers of Tibetan Buddhist culture, and was adopted with the aim of ensuring that “monks and nuns do not take part in activities of splitting up the motherland and disturbing social order”. Moreover, in 2014 new measures were imposed at a county level in Driru (Chinese: Biru) in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), according to which monasteries deemed ‘illegal’ would be torn down.
We call upon the Human Rights Council, of which the Peoples’ Republic of China is a member, to ensure freedom of religion in Tibet.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Congressional Executive Commission on China, Annual Report 2014, Tibet section: https://savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cecc-2014-report-Tibet.pdf
 Human Rights Watch (HRW), “China: Tibetan Monasteries Placed Under Direct Rule”, March 16, 2012: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/16/china-tibetan-monasteries-placed-under-direct-rule
 International Campaign for Tibet, “Harsh new rectification drive in Driru: nuns expelled and warning of destruction of monasteries and ‘mani walls’”, November 20, 2014: https://savetibet.org/harsh-new-rectification-drive-in-driru-nuns-expelled-and-warning-of-destruction-of-monasteries-and-mani-walls/