UN must hold China’s human rights record to highest level of scrutiny

November 12, 2013 10:27 pm

DHARAMSHALA (12 November 2013) – As China has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 12 November, the UN member States must hold China’s human rights record to the highest level of scrutiny.

China accepted the principle of ‘Universality of Human Rights’ initially in its National Human Rights Action Plan 2009-2010 and subsequently in its national report for the Universal Periodic Review 2009 which was held last month. Moreover, in the aide-memoire announcing its candidacy to the UNHRC, China pledged “further protection of the rights and interests of minority ethnic groups.”

However, China has failed in implementing the past commitments with regards to human rights, with the political, economic and cultural repression of Tibetans becoming more conspicuous than ever. With the latest self-immolation by a 20-year-old Tibetan monk having taken place in Pema county in Golog prefecture in northeastern Tibet (incorporated into China’s Qinghai Province) yesterday, the Tibetans inside Tibet are sending an unequivocal message to the world about the situation on ground in Tibet. The number of self-immolations as a form of political protest has risen to 122.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) is deeply concerned by the alarming ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by China. China has persistently failed to meet its own self-imposed international pledges.

As referred to by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in November 2012, human rights transgressions include:

  • Economic exploitation of Tibetan land, including population transfer of Chinese workers into Tibetan territory.
  • ‘Patriotic Re-education’ campaign in Tibetan monasteries, forcing members of the monastic community to espouse unwavering loyalty to the Communist Party and denounce their spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
  • Forced resettlement of Tibetan herders without economic, education and health prospects.

China also claimed to have “earnestly fulfilled its obligations under the human rights conventions it has acceded to,” while pledging its co-operation with the Human Rights Council. Again, these assurances are in sharp contrast with the State’s persistent history of non-cooperation with human rights mechanisms, including:

  • Arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of Tibetan detainees; acts which violate both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. There are 988 known political prisoners in Tibet today.
  • Failure to facilitate a visit to China by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
  • Refusal to respond to 12 outstanding requests for official visits to China by UN Special Rapporteurs on various human rights issues.
  • Refusal to implement recommendations made by the Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

In view of the above concerns, the Central Tibetan Administration strongly urges UN member States to hold China accountable for its ongoing human rights abuses and prior commitments. It calls for the highest level of China’s human rights performance now that it has become a member of the UN Human Rights Council.