Dharamshala: The Central Tibetan Administration welcomed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visit to China and other regions which is “foresee to take place” in May this year, as announced by the High Commissioner during the 49th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year. The announcement comes three and a half years after the High Commissioner publicly called upon China to allow unrestricted access to regions for the first time in September 2018.
The Central Tibetan Administration believes the visit to East Turkestan would go a long way in ameliorating the human rights situation in East Turkistan and addressing the genuine grievances of the Uyghur people. The deplorable situation in the Uyghur regions must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. However, sidelining Tibet during this upcoming visit in the face of ever-growing expansionist China will pose a risk and challenge the holistic approach to address human rights violations being committed by China.
China’s invasion, occupation and misguided policies in Tibet over the years have resulted in severe human rights violations for the Tibetan people on many levels and in different aspects of their lives. Due to the existing repressive atmosphere and an absence of civic space in Tibet, at least 158 known Tibetans have resorted to tragic self-immolation protests calling for more freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
Over two million Tibetan nomads have been forcibly removed from ancestral nomadic lands in the name of “development” and “poverty alleviation”. The Tibetan language has been systematically replaced by Mandarin and Tibetan medium schools are forcibly shut down. The continued enforced disappearance of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a cause of great concern for not only Tibetans but for the entire Tibetan Buddhist followers around the world. The recent joint communication by a group of six UN Special Procedures mandate holders to China over the arrest, detention and enforced disappearance of Tibetan writer Lobsang Lhundup (known by his pen name Dhi Lhaden), musician Lhundrup Drakpa and Tibetan teacher Rinchen Kyi demonstrates the challenges faced by Tibetans on a daily basis, in particular Tibetan who are engaged in the protection and promotion of Tibetan language, culture and traditions, or for merely expressing their views about Chinese policies being implemented in Tibet. The situation in Tibet has been worsening day by day resulting in the slow death of Tibet’s traditional culture and national identity. Therefore, a meaningful assessment of the situation in Tibet by the High Commissioner is a critical need of the hour and this can happen only with a visit to Tibet.
“We are deeply dismayed by the UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s lack of responsiveness to our earlier appeal letter and the perceived obscurity surrounding the impending visit thereby contesting the credibility of the Office of High Commission. In contrast with the predecessors, the High Commissioner’s silence on China’s human rights abuses in Tibet is deeply concerning. The High Commissioner must be publicly accountable for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) observation and assessment of the human rights situation in Tibet and indicate efforts being taken by the office to mitigate the repressive and rapidly deteriorating situation in Tibet. It is more pressing than ever to send the right signal of hope for human rights and freedom in Tibet and other regions being suppressed by China. Therefore, we reiterate our appeal to the UN High Commissioner to ensure that the upcoming visit to the oppressed regions in China must be credible, substantive and unfettered including a visit to Tibet”, said Kalon Norzin Dolma, Minister for the Department of Information and International Relations, CTA.
The Department of Information and International Relations
Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala
29 April 2022