Geneva: At the on-going 34th session of UN Human Rights Council that opened on February 27 this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein today expressed concern over ‘cultural and religious restrictions’ in Tibet and demonstrated commitment to engage with China for an ‘effective dialogue on important human rights issues.’
The High Commissioner made an hour-long presentation of the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.
“I am also disturbed by cases of restrictions on cultural and religious rights, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet, and I will continue to reach out to China for an effective dialogue on important human rights issues,” said the High Commissioner.
Under Item 2- ‘Annual Report and Oral Update to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council,’ the statement of High Commissioner was made on the activities of his office and recent human rights developments.
The 2017 Freedom House report released on February 28 this year ranked Tibetan Buddhism as one the most repressed religions in China. The report pointed to the Chinese authorities’ imposition of “severe constraints on the religious practice of Tibetan Buddhists, most notably veneration of the exiled Dalai Lama.”
On February 24 this year, on the eve of 34th session of UN Human Rights Council in a rare and bold move, six independent UN experts made public, a joint statement on a range of human rights violations in Tibet, particularly on the case of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar. In a sharply worded statement, the UN experts expressed alarm over China’s violations of international human rights laws and wide-scale religious repression in Tibet.
On December 5 last year, both Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay of Central Tibetan Administration and TPIE Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel addressed a joint press conference urging the UNHCHR to take immediate action to save Larung Gar. Paralleling the press conference, Office of Tibet in Geneva sought various urgent meetings with Special Procedures Office. This was followed by a high level weeklong lobbying in Geneva undertaken by Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) along with Office of Tibet Geneva early this year.