53rd UN HRC Session: UN High Commissioner and Member States Draw Attention on Violations of Human Rights by China in Tibet

Geneva: Drawing attention to the human rights situation across the world, a group of UN member states expressed concerns over China’s continued violations of human rights in Tibet.

In the global update of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with reference to China, the High Commissioner highlighted treaty bodies’ findings on rights violations by China, including “assimilation policies that undermine the identity “of Tibetan people. The High Commissioner also informed the council that the High Commissioner’s office is “seeking further engagement” with China, including the importance “to establish” the presence of the UN human rights office for the “first time” in China. Furthermore, the High Commissioner called upon China to “seek the expertise of Special Procedures mandate holders”.

Following the presentation of the High Commissioner’s global update, UN member states including Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom raised Tibet in the respective country’s statement.

While welcoming the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ proposal for the establishment of the presence of the UN human rights office in China, the Czech Republic urged China to “uphold” its international obligations and protect the universal human rights of all individuals, including by ending the ongoing serious and systematic human rights violations in Tibet. Similarly, the United Kingdom urged China to uphold its international obligations and protect the universal human rights of all individuals, including by ending the ongoing serious and systematic human rights violations in Tibet.

Furthermore, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany expressed “deep concern” over the human rights situation in Tibet and raised a series of issues including the persecution of human rights defenders. Echoing the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) findings on violations of human rights by China, Australia raised concern over the mistreatment of Tibetan women in Tibet.

The United States delivered a joint statement on behalf of the 65 UN member states that drew attention to deplorable human rights violations committed by the state “against persons belonging to religious, linguistic, national, and ethnic minorities, often with the stated aim of mitigating a perceived security threat”. The joint statement delivered by the United States raised a series of rights violations, including laws and policies specifically restricting and suppressing the practices that are part of the identity and cultural life of persons belonging to minorities: authorities destroyed cultural heritage sites, cemeteries and places of worship; suppress languages; forcibly assimilate children through the education system; place severe restrictions on movement; and restrict access to livelihoods, education, and healthcare”.

Additionally, during an interactive dialogue on specific thematic issues, the United States commended the UN Special Rapporteur on Education for bringing attention to the Chinese government-run boarding schools in Tibet. The forced boarding school run by the Chinese government in Tibet has “forcibly separated” nearly a million Tibetan children from their families, and is of “serious human rights concerns”, said the United States.

The Tibet Bureau and Society for Threatened Peoples jointly organised a side event to shed light on repression by China in Tibet. Furthermore, the discriminatory practices by China against Tibetan women and China’s colonial-style boarding schools in Tibet were raised at the 53rd UN Human Rights Council session.

During an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Education under item 3 of the UN human rights council session on 27 June 2023, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council Michele Taylor commended the UN Special Rapporteur on Education for bringing attention to Chinese government-run boarding schools in Tibet.

The forced boarding school run by the Chinese government in Tibet has “forcibly separated approximately one million Tibetan children from their families, including those as young as four years old” which raises serious human rights concerns, said Ambassador Taylor.

Welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to education, on behalf of the Society For Threatened Peoples, the UN Advocacy Officer of the Tibet Bureau-Geneva Kalden Tsomo called for the UN Human Rights Council’s attention on “colonial style boarding schools” run by the Chinese government in Tibet.

China has used education as a political tool to suppress and Sinicize Tibetan culture and identity, said Kalden Tsomo in the statement delivered. Highlighting China’s forcible closure of Tibetan private schools teaching Tibetan language and culture; separation of nearly a million Tibetan children aged 6 to 18 from their parents and community and forced residential schools, she reiterated the UN Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights and Special procedure, including the Special Rapporteur on education’s concerns and recommendation to China to abolish residential schools and to allow private schools to operate in Tibetan areas.

Furthermore, she called for the attention of the UN Human Rights Council over the repressive move by China to suppress any form of expression of Tibetanness, through a series of oppressive measures including education. The discriminatory practices and issues affecting the life of Tibetan women under China’s discriminatory policies and practices in Tibet were also raised During an interactive dialogue with the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women held on 22 June 2023, Besides, the Tibet Bureau -Geneva and Society For Threatened Peoples jointly organised a side event to brought the spotlight on China’s continued repression in Tibet on the sideline of the ongoing UN Human Rights session.

-Report filed by the Tibet Bureau-Geneva

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