CHINA – 50th anniversary of Tibet uprising: NGOs call for high-level UN engagement on the region
18 March 2009 2:13 am
Six human rights organisations held a press briefing on 12 March 2009. In a a statement, they called for high-level UN engagement on Tibet.
Six human rights organisations held a press briefing on 12 March 2009. They issued a statement calling for high-level UN engagement on Tibet as below.
Tensions remain high in Tibet as Tibetans commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the foreign occupation of their homeland and the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet to India in March 1959. The anniversary comes just one year on from major popular protests against Chinese rule that spread across the Tibetan plateau and sparked an ensuing brutal clampdown by Chinese security forces. In response, human rights NGOs working on or concerned about the situation in Tibet today call on a high-level engagement by the UN human rights mechanisms and mandates, including that of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to help alleviate the human suffering in Tibet.
“We call upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately launch an independent UN inquiry on the current situation in Tibet by working together with the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Committee Against Torture”, said Stewart Watters, Government Relations Director of the International Campaign for Tibet Europe, based in Amsterdam.
At the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, reports on the deplorable human rights situation in Tibet have been released by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy. These reports found evidence of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, the use of torture, enforced disappearances, a failure to disclose the details of detainees and the lack of due process and a severe military crackdown on all forms of dissent, both in religious institutions and in public life.
“The question now is whether the UN human rights mechanisms shoulder their responsibilities to protect the human rights of the Tibetan people. We are disappointed that the reports of certain mandate holders to the current session of the Council paid little attention to the sheer scale of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances in Tibet”, said Tenzin Norgay of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
In December 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the government of the People’s Republic of China to resolve the situation in Tibet through a “sincere” dialogue with the Dalai Lama, while China turned down as “inconvenient” requests for visits to Tibet by UN human rights experts, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At its CAT Review in November 2008, China brushed off any criticism of its conduct in Tibet and during the UPR session in February 2009, also rejected any recommendations related to Tibet as attempts to “politicise the issue”.
The barring of foreign journalists from Tibetan areas of present-day China further raises suspicions about the use of military forces against Tibetan civilians. On 9 March, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China demanded an end to detentions of journalists reporting on Tibet and called on China to “live up to its promise of openness in all of China, including TAR and other Tibetan areas".
Given the highly credible reports of gross and systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms are being committed by Chinese authorities with impunity, it has now become crucial for UN human rights mechanisms to respond by launching the highest level of engagement with the Chinese leadership so as to ensure access by UN human rights observers to investigates the human rights crisis in Tibet.
“If, in this hour of need, the UN human rights mechanisms and experts do not fully, jointly and urgently respond to protect the human rights of the Tibetan people then they have failed to recognise the gravity of the situation confronted by the Tibetans for the past 50 years of alien domination by China” said Ngawang Choephel, President of Tibetan U.N. Advocacy based in Geneva.
Tibetan U.N. Advocacy, Switzerland
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
International Campaign for Tibet – Europe, Netherlands
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy, India
Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitie entre les peoples (MRAP), France
Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization, Netherlands
(Photo Courtesy of AP)