The International Campaign for Tibet welcomes the statement released today, April 27, 2023, by six independent UN Special Rapporteurs on the Chinese authorities’ so-called “vocational training programs” for Tibetans. In it, the experts express concern over reports that the alleged “job transfer and vocational training programs” are being used as a pretext “to undermine Tibet’s religion, language and culture, and to monitor and politically indoctrinate Tibetans.”

Furthermore, such programs could lead to forced labor, the UN special rapporteurs continued. The Chinese government must clarify that Tibetans have the option to refuse to participate in the programs.

In addition, the Chinese government must explain how it will align the programs with its obligations under international law to prevent forced labor.

Finally, according to the experts, respect for the religion, language and culture of the Tibetans must be ensured.

The International Campaign for Tibet said: “The international community should support the demands of the UN experts and strongly express their concern about these labor programs. Tibetans have no way of escaping such programs by legal means. Therefore, there is indeed cause for concern that these are programs that lead to forced labor. It is also obvious that the CCP is pursuing ideological goals with these programs. Tibetans are to be indoctrinated, intimidated and in obedience of the Communist Party.”

UN experts

On Feb. 6, 2023, the UN special rapporteurs wrote to the Chinese authorities asking the Chinese authorities to review the labor programs for Tibetans and to ensure that those affected do not have to take part against their will. Likewise, the working conditions for Tibetans must be controlled and it must be ensured that Tibetans are not discriminated against on the basis of their religion, language or culture.

According to reports, since 2015 hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have been forced to abandon their traditional rural way of life and take on low-paid jobs for low-skilled workers through an alleged “voluntary program.” Furthermore, the UN experts explained that the “job transfer programs” would be facilitated by a network of “vocational training centers” that did not pursue professional development but rather the goal of cultural and political indoctrination, above all in connection with military drills.

The UN experts expressed concern that the “vocational training programs” were designed to promote a “non-pluralistic, monoracial and monoethnic nation,” which violates the prohibition of racial discrimination and international human rights. “The Chinese government has an obligation to dismantle such discriminatory ideas and practices,” the UN experts said.

The experts have received an initial response from the Chinese government, the statement said at the end.