Tibet movement leaders expose China’s defensive responses on Tibet at UN – 20 March 2014

Filed in Press Release, UN advocacy by on March 21, 2014

Press Release
March 20, 2014

For Immediate Release

Padma Dolma, Students for a Free Tibet, +41 788747922 (English, German)
Iona Liddell, Tibet Justice Center, + 44 7712 570736
Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network, +44 7748 158 618
Migmar Dolma, Tibetan Youth Association of Europe, +41 788747922 (French, Tibetan)

Tibet Movement Leaders Expose China’s Defensive Responses on Tibet
UN Member States Must Apply Strong Diplomatic Pressure Following China’s UPR Adoption

China has responded to the United Nations review of its human rights record by rejecting most of the recommendations made specifically on Tibet by other UN member states at the Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Tibet campaigners celebrated the fact that China accepted the visit of UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay to China and Tibet but denounced China’s rejection of several other recommendations that would address its gross human rights violations in Tibet. China stated that on most fronts, there was no need for concern, claiming that ‘ethnic minorities’ are protected, that human rights defenders are not suppressed, and that arbitrary detention does not exist in China. Of the seven recommendations specifically mentioning Tibet, China rejected five, and said it had already implemented another.

“China’s strategy of denial over the human rights crisis in Tibet cannot be tolerated at the United Nations. As the situation continues to deteriorate in Tibet, governments must continue to use the joint mechanism of the Human Rights Council to put the Chinese government under the spotlight, and hold them accountable for failing to address the critical situation in Tibet,” said Iona Liddell of Tibet Justice Center. “With at least 129 Tibetans having chosen to set light to themselves in protest against Beijing’s brutal policies since 2009, ignoring the situation at a high political level can no longer be an option.”

After taking the unusual decision to shut down its own UPR session yesterday in an attempt to stop a protest by non-governmental organizations over the death of a Chinese activist, China’s session today was fraught with high tension. After hours of tense discussion, a silent protest was led by the International Service for Human Rights in remembrance of the Chinese rights activist Cao Shunli.

“Today, young Tibetans stood in solidarity with Chinese rights activists and pushed for the solidarity protest against China in remembrance of the unjustly death of rights activist Cao Shunli. China’s carefully maintained facade was shattered by its hysteric attempt to silence other member states and non-governmental organizations in order to hide the reality of its human rights atrocities in China, Tibet and East Turkestan,” said Padma Dolma of Students for a Free Tibet. “We commend the strong statements expressed by the UN Member States today and urge the UN Human Rights Council to not let China off the hook after the conclusion of the review.”

Since China’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2009, international support for the need for strong, coordinated action on the situation in Tibet has been deepening, and the UPR process is an opportunity for governments to vigorously speak out for Tibet. In China’s human rights review session in October 2013, 13 states made recommendations to China about Tibet. It is to these, and the other recommendations that China is now responding.

“Specific dates for a visit to Tibet by High Commissioner Navi Pillay must be agreed upon immediately and we urge all governments to press for this agreement at the highest possible level,” said Padma Dolma of Students for a Free Tibet. “While the prospect of a visit is a step in the right direction, it does not in itself constitute progress in improving human rights. A more systematic and deepening crackdown is being implemented in Tibet under the leadership of Xi Jinping. By rejecting several recommendations on Tibet, China has demonstrated no intention of changing course in Tibet until it faces greater diplomatic pressure. The Universal Periodic Review is a start but now we need a sustained multilateral approach to ending the crisis in Tibet by UN member states.”

Notably, China did not accept five other Tibet-related recommendations made by member states, including one by New Zealand that asked for the dialogue process between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and China to resume.

“China countered this recommendation with its usual rhetoric, insisting that the Dalai Lama is still seeking Tibetan independence, when it is consistently reiterated by the international community that he is instead calling for a genuine autonomy and that the rights of Tibetans to be protected in accordance with China’s constitution and laws,” said Mandie McKeown of International Tibet Network.

Last October at China’s Universal Periodic Review, 13 UN member states made recommendations on Tibet and numerous others called for China to change its treatment of ethnic minorities and respect the rights to freedom of expression, religion and assembly. China’s response to concerns about Tibet mirrored current hardline policies and included insulting condemnation of the Dalai Lama.

Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States of America made verbal interventions on Tibet, along with written questions from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and robust statements from many other states concerning the protection of ‘ethnic minorities’.

“With so many UN Member States raising Tibet in this joint forum, it is impossible for China to hide the reality of the situation on the ground, however much it tries. Yet, China’s response showed that it is still not willing to take any responsibility for the deterioration in Tibet,” said Migmar Dolma of Tibetan Youth Association of Europe.