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ICJ Report on Tibet and China (excerpt) (1960) [p.346]





GENEVA, 1960



The Legal Inquiry Committee on Tibet has the pleasure to submit to the International Commission of Jurists its Report on those aspects of events in Tibet which the Committee was called upon by its terms of reference to consider. The Committee came to the following conclusions:


According to the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December, 1948, human groups against which genocide is recognized as a crime in international law are national, racial, ethnic and religious. The COMMITTEE found that acts of genocide had been committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans as a religious group, and that such acts are acts of genocide independently of any conventional obligation. The COMMITTEE did not find that there was sufficient proof of the destruction of Tibetans as a race, nation or ethnic group as such by methods that can be regarded as genocide in international law. The evidence established four principal facts in relation to genocide:

(a) that the Chinese will not permit adherence to and practice of Buddhism in Tibet;

(b) that they have systematically set out to eradicate this religious belief in Tibet;

(c) that in pursuit of this design they have killed religious figures because their religious belief and practice was an encouragement and example to others; and

(d) that they have forcibly transferred large numbers of Tibetan children to a Chinese materialist environment in order to prevent them from having a religious upbringing.

The COMMITTEE therefore found that genocide had been committed against this religious group by such methods.


The COMMITTEE examined evidence in relation to human rights within the framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The COMMITTEE in considering the question of human rights took into account that economic and social rights are as much a part of human rights as are civil liberties. They found that the Chinese communist authorities in Tibet had violated human rights of both kinds.

The COMMITTEE came to the conclusion that the Chinese authorities in Tibet had violated the following human rights, which the COMMITTEE considered to be the standards of behavior in the common opinion of civilized nations:


The right to life, liberty and security of person was violated by acts of murder, rape and arbitrary imprisonment.


Torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were inflicted on the Tibetans on a large scale.


Arbitrary arrests and detention were carried out.


Rights of privacy, of home and family life were persistently violated by the forcible transfer of members of the family and by indoctrination turning children against their parents. Children from infancy upwards were removed contrary to the wishes of the parents.


Freedom of movement within, to and from Tibet was denied by large-scale deportations.


The voluntary nature of marriage was denied by forcing monks and lamas to marry.


The right not to be arbitrarily deprived of private property was violated by the confiscation and compulsory acquisition of private property otherwise than on payment of just compensation and in accordance with the freely expressed wish of the Tibetan People.


Freedom of thought, conscience and religion were denied by acts of genocide against Buddhists in Tibet and by other systematic acts designed to eradicate religious belief in Tibet.


Freedom of expression and opinion was denied by the destruction of scriptures, the imprisonment of members of the Mimang group and the cruel punishments inflicted on critics of the regime.


The right of free assembly and association was violated by the suppression of the Mimang movement and the prohibition of meetings other than those called by the Chinese.


The right to democratic government was denied by the imposition from outside of rule by and under the Chinese Communist Party.


The economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for the dignity and free development of the personality of man were denied. The economic resources of Tibet were used to meet the needs of the Chinese. Social changes were adverse to the interests of the majority of the Tibetan people. The old culture of Tibet, including its religion, was attacked in an attempt to eradicate it.


The right to reasonable working conditions was violated by the exaction of labour under harsh and ill-paid conditions.


A reasonable standard of living was denied by the use of the Tibetan economy to meet the needs of the Chinese settling in Tibet.


The right to liberal education primarily in accordance with the choice of parents was denied by compulsory indoctrination, sometimes after deportation, in communist philosophy.


The Tibetans were not allowed to participate in the cultural life of their own community, a culture which the Chinese have set out to destroy.

Chinese allegations that the Tibetans enjoyed no human rights before the entry of the Chinese were found to be based on distorted and exaggerated accounts of life in Tibet. Accusations against the Tibetan "rebels" of rape, plunder and torture were found in cases of plunder to have been deliberately fabricated and in other cases unworthy of belief for this and other reasons.


The view of the COMMITTEE was that Tibet was at the very least a de facto independent State when the Agreement of Peaceful Measures in Tibet was signed in 1951, and the repudiation of this agreement by the Tibetan Government in 1959 was found to be fully justified. In examining the evidence, the COMMITTEE took into account events in Tibet as related in authoritative accounts by officials and scholars familiar at first hand with the recent history of Tibet and official documents which have been published. These show that Tibet demonstrated from 1913 to 1950 the conditions of statehood as generally accepted under international law. In 1950 there was a people and a territory, and a government which functioned in that territory, conducting its own domestic affairs free from any outside authority. From 19131950 foreign relations of Tibet were conducted exclusively by the Government of Tibet and countries with whom Tibet had foreign relations are shown by official documents to have treated Tibet in practice as an independent State.

Tibet surrendered her independence by signing in 1951 the Agreement on Peaceful Measures for the Liberation of Tibet. Under that Agreement the Central People's Government of the Chinese People's Republic gave a number of undertakings, among them: promises to maintain the existing political system of Tibet, to maintain the status and functions of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, to protect freedom of religion and the monasteries and to refrain from compulsion in the matter of reforms in Tibet. The COMMITTEE found that these and other undertakings had been violated by the Chinese People's Republic, and that the Government of Tibet was entitled to repudiate the Agreement as it did on March 11, 1959.

On the status of Tibet the previous inquiry was limited to considering whether the question of Tibet was a matter essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the Chinese People's Republic. The COMMITTEE considered that it should confine itself to this question and it was therefore not necessary to attempt a definitive analysis in terms of modern international law of the exact juridical status of Tibet. The COMMITTEE was not concerned with the question whether the status of Tibet in 1950 was one of de facto or de jure independence and was satisfied that Tibet's status was such as to make the Tibetan question one for the legitimate concern of the United Nations even on the restrictive interpretation of matters "essentially within the domestic jurisdiction" of a State.

Purshottam Trikamdas, Chairman

Arturo A. Alafriz

T.S. Fernando

K. Bentsi-Enchill

Ong Huck Lim

N.C. Chatterjee

R.P. Mookerjee

Rolf Christophersen

M.R. Seni Pramoj

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