The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today issued the “Concluding Observations” on its third periodic review of China, calling for an end to forced relocations and the state-run boarding school system in Tibet.

The committee, consisting of independent experts, moreover expressed concern that Tibetans, among others living under China’s repressive rule, “face severe restrictions in the realization of their right to take part in cultural life, including the right to use and teach minority languages, history and culture.”

With regard to labor conditions, the committee called for an independent review of labor policies, which, in effect, would allow for an independent investigation into credible reports of coercive labor programs implemented in Tibet. The committee is “also concerned about reports of systematic and massive destruction of religious sites such as mosques, monasteries, shrines and cemeteries, particularly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and in the Tibet Autonomous Region.”

“The UN committee’s concluding observations are an indictment of the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet,” ICT Germany Executive Director Kai Mueller stated. “The Tibetan people have been subjected to policies that systematically threaten the survival of their culture and identity. The international community should follow the committee’s example and urgently call for an end to these rights violations, most importantly the boarding school system and the mass relocations taking place in Tibet.”

UN review

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviewed China’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Feb. 15-16, 2023, during which there was a focus on the Chinese government’s extensive resettlement policy and forced assimilation of Tibetan children at state-run boarding schools, about which independent UN human rights experts recently sounded the alarm.

The Chinese delegation, which included neither Tibetans nor Uyghurs, was unable to answer important questions from the committee members, including such questions as whether Tibetans affected by drastic measures by the authorities have access to courts without fear of persecution. Criticism was also voiced about Beijing’s massive interference in the free practice of religion in Tibet.

Up to 1 million Tibetan children are systematically alienated from their language and culture in compulsory boarding schools. Up to 2 million Tibetan nomads, farmers and rural residents of Tibet have been forcibly resettled in recent years. The Chinese government intervenes massively in the free exercise of religion and persecutes Tibetans who peacefully oppose this policy.

Ahead of China’s review, ICT and the Loyola Law School made a joint submission to the committee, calling for an end to mass forced relocations and policies that coerce Tibetans under the pretext of development and environmental protection. They also raised serious concerns about educational policies in Tibet, which reportedly have led to the separation of hundreds of thousands of Tibetan children from their families and their culture.

Read the committee’s “Concluding Observations.”