Published By Jamphel Shonu

Image credit: Tenzin Jigme/DIIR

A group of international human rights organizations has “sent a private letter” to specific UN member states urging them to hold China accountable at the UN Human Rights Council. The UN Human Rights Council opened its 37th regular session yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the letter, the groups specified five cases of human rights defenders, including the case of Tibetan language education advocate Tashi Wangchuk. The letter sought support from the UN member states to denounce China’s human rights abuses while putting pressure on the Chinese government regarding the five mentioned cases, namely;

1. Liu Xia, a poet kept under house arrest after the death of her husband, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, in July 2017;
2. Wang Quanzhang, a rights lawyer held incommunicado since July 9, 2015;
3. Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen arbitrarily detained in China since he vanished from Thailand in October 2015;
4. Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan cultural rights and education advocate who has been detained more than two years on charges of inciting separatism; and
5. Yu Wensheng, a prominent human rights lawyer disbarred, then arbitrarily detained, in January 2018.

The authors of the letter said in their press release, “These are just five cases among hundreds, if not more. Taken together, they show that the ferocious crackdown on human rights defenders, including lawyers, that has intensified since President Xi Jinping assumed power continues unabated.”

“The Human Rights Council should take further steps to show China that undermining key legal protections for freedoms of expression and association and the rights to a fair trial, not to mention disappearing or arbitrarily detaining dissenting voices, is unacceptable behaviour – especially for a would-be ‘global leader,”‘ the group further noted.

The rights organizations also called upon governments “to demonstrate their commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights in China, and to defend the values underlying the international human rights system”.

The joint letter was endorsed by Amnesty International, China Labour Bulletin, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, the International Service for Human Rights, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, PEN America, Swedish PEN, the Tibet Advocacy Coalition (comprised of the International Tibet Network Secretariat, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Initiative Deutschland, Tibet Justice Center, and Tibetan Youth Association in Europe), and the World Uyghur Congress.

Earlier in January, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the “immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk,” while also calling on the Chinese authorities to release the jailed Tibetan monk Choekyi who is reported to be in critical health.

More recently, last week a group of UN experts denounced the criminalization and detention of rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

The timely interferences and attention from the international community on China, specifically at the UN, is ever more significant as China prepares to undergo its third Universal Periodic Review scheduled for November 2018.

 – Report filed by UN/EU and HR desk, DIIR –

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