Dharamsala: The worsening human rights situation in Tibet was a major topic of concern amongst the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) members. The Council convened on June 18 in Geneva to discuss various issues, including other human, economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
Article 4 of China's Constitution and Autonomy Law (REAL) promulgated in 1984 guarantees the freedom of all nationalities "to use and develop their own spoken and written languages..." However, China seems to be oblivious to this and continues to deny Tibetans their rights.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that after the immolations on May 27, 2012 they "have documented many restrictions on freedom of association and assembly. Security forces in Lhasa have been carrying out highly increased identity checks on the streets of the city." HRW has further stated that in areas of protests (Eastern Tibet) the Chinese have ordered local Tibetans to leave the capital and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) as well.
They have urged the Chinese government to stand by the obligations connected with the freedom of association and have maintained that the constant violation of Tibetan human rights can result in increased tension and unrest in the region.
During the morning session, Mr Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon made a joint statement of 4 UN NGOs. He stated that the continued denial of human rights by the Chinese government poses a threat to the very survival of the Tibetans as a distinct group. He sheds light on the fact that the Chinese authorities' implementation of policies and eviction of the Tibetan nomads is systematically eliminating a unique Tibetan lifestyle which had played a crucial role in the Tibetan Plateau for centuries.
In the afternoon session, Mr Tenzin Samphel KAYTA from Society for Threatened Peoples brought attention to the fact that although the Council has focused on pressing human rights issues in general; they have failed to pay attention to the situation in Tibet since China's occupation. He has further expressed concern on China's policy on permanently stationing communist work teams in monasteries and nunneries to conduct "Patriotic re-education" sessions. Monks and nuns who fail to oblige and denounce their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama; are punished with arrests and expulsion.
Referring to the self immolations, he stated that, "Tibetan plateau is engulfed in human flames. So far 41 Tibetans had immolated themselves ‘for freedom' and ‘return of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama' and 31 reported dead. Sadly, the Chinese authorities' response has been brutal suppression rather than listening to their genuine grievances."
He urged the Council to call upon China to allow UN independent experts to ascertain the situation on ground and implement the invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights by receiving Madame Pillay for a fact-finding committee to devote adequate time in Tibet.
Several UN member states, including the United States of America, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Canada and the European Union spoke about China's human rights abuses, especially drawing light on the situation in Tibet.
On behalf of the EU the Danish delegate expressed immense concern on the deteriorating situation in Tibet and Tibetan-populated areas, especially in the Sichaun Province.
The Belgium delegate called upon Chinese authorities to put an end to disappearances and arbitrary arrests in order to shed light on the fate of all persons who have been missing due to their show of protest.
The US ambassador said that China silences dissent through arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions; has tightened controls on the Internet; persecutes human rights lawyers; intimidates activists' families; impedes civil society; and limits religious freedom. The Chinese government policies undermine Tibetan and Uighur linguistic, religious, and cultural traditions.
The Swedish, Canadian, Czech and French delegates all expressed concern on the Tibetan situation, in particular the self immolations that have increased across the provinces and have urged China to act with responsibility when it comes to the rights of freedom of religion, expression and association of the Tibetans.
This meeting will continue till 6 July and will be dealing with issues related to racism.