EU tells UNHRC its concern about situation in Tibet

GENEVA: The European Union expressed its concern about the situation in Tibet at the ongoing 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Under General debate, the governments and NGOs discussed human rights situations that requires the Council’s attention.

Cyprus, speaking on behalf the EU, said: “EU remains seriously concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations in China, particularly with regard to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief, and the situation of minorities, including in Tibet and Xinjiang. The EU continues to discuss these concerns with the Chinese leadership at multiple levels and through various channels.”

The Czech Republic expressed its “deep concern about the deteriorating of situation in Tibetan-inhabited areas where increasing restrictions on religious freedom have led to a series of self-immolation cases. A number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have been recently imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, such as Mr Yonten Gyatso, who was reportedly sentenced over sending information to the Human Rights Council.”

Swedish diplomat “called on China to ensure that the rights of persons belonging to minorities including in Tibet and Xinjiang are fully respected.”

US ambassador said that “China silences dissent through arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions; has tightened controls on the Internet; persecutes human rights lawyers; intimidates activists’ families; impedes civil society; harasses journalists; and limits religious freedom.  Government policies undermine the linguistic, religious, cultural, and livelihood traditions of its minorities.”

Switzerland expressed regret over continual tensions in areas of national minorities. The Swiss called upon China to ensure that fundamental rights are respected in implementation of this new law on criminal procedure.

German delegate supported the EU statement and expressed its concerns on ongoing reports of human rights violations in China.

Speaking on behalf of Society for Threatened Peoples during the debate, Mr Tenzin Samphel KAYTA expressed grave concerned at the deplorable human rights situation in China particularly in Tibetan populated regions and Xinjiang.

He said that it is heartbreaking and alarming to witness increasing number of Tibetan self-immolations in China. 51 Tibetans have self-immolated since February 2009 in protest against injustices and to draw international attention to their tragic plight. They have called for “freedom in Tibet” and “return of their spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.

41 self-immolators have died from their injuries and 5 of them were either shot at or beaten by the Chinese security forces. 38 self-immolations happened in the last eight months alone. The Chinese officials’ response toward Tibetan protestors has been repressive and brutal.

He said “the Chinese officials have been targeting Tibetan monasteries. In August five young monks were detained during night raids at Gyalrong Tsodun Monastery in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang) County in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province and whereabouts remain unknown.

He further said nearly 64 known cases of Tibetan intellectuals – writers, artists, bloggers, human rights defenders, environmentalist who were arrested; detained; sentenced; released for feared of custodial death due to torture; teachers fired from job and demoted for expressing their views through songs and write up relating to the China’s policies on education, protests, promotion and protection of Tibetan culture, language and religion.

He drew the Council’s attention on the recent 3 years court sentence handed down to a teenage Tibetan girl Jigme Dolma by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province for her protest.

He said China must uphold its international obligation by protecting human rights of all citizens including Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians of their religious freedom or belief, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, right to enjoy their own culture and use of their own language.

Mr Kayta urged China to fully cooperate with UN mechanisms and schedule an early date of visit by the Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom or Belief as invited by China in 2004.

Two written statements on Tibetan children’s right to education and denial of freedom of opinion, expression and information were submitted by two NGOs to this Council.

The current HRC session ends on 28 September. The next session will be convened in between February and March 2013.