Mr. TENZIN KAYTA speaking on behalf of Society for Threatened drew the Council's attention to the situation in Tibet. He applauds the High Commissioner for Human Rights for expressing concern over the human rights situation in Xinjiang and Tibet. The High Commission in her address last week to the Council, she called upon the Chinese authorities "to respect human rights in upholding the law" and encouraging them "to reflect on the underlying causes of such incidents, which include discrimination and the failure to protect minority rights."
Mr. KAYTA expressed great concern on the issue of population transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet threatening the very survival of Tibetan culture. According to official Chinese publications, between 1990 and 95, the total population on the Tibetan Plateau is 10,102,000, out of which Tibetans constitute 4,821,500, only 48 percent. He warned if this trend continues and the international community fails to intervene, the Tibetans will disappear in a sea of Chinese settler and of course, their rich cultural heritage completely overwhelmed. He also drew the Council's attention on the issue of Chinese government's resettlement programme of Tibetan nomads.
The UN three Special Procedure mandate holders including Special Raporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples in its joint official inquiry to China on 3rd October 2007 stated "these (resettlement programmes) policies have had a very adverse impact on the traditional lifestyles and living patterns in Tibetan areas, affecting directly the fabric of traditional Tibetan life and devastating the economy of these communities. The implementation of these policies contributes to the challenges that Tibetan cultural and religious identity face today." Mr. KAYTA concluded by urging Chinese authorities to live up to the pledge made in February that they would receive one Special Procedure mandate-holder this year and also the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Mr. Douglas Griffiths, Deputy Permanent Representative, Chargé, ad interim of U.S. Mission to the United Nation said, "We followed closely the recent disturbances in China's Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region and last year's unrest in Tibetan areas. We urge the Chinese authorities, as they work to maintain order, to respect the safety and legal rights of all of China's citizens and to make efforts to find a solution to legitimate grievances."
In the afternoon, a parallel event was also organized in the UN to discuss on China's education policy in Tibet. The panellist included Mr. Lobsang Nyima Langmo Gombatsang, ex-middle school teacher in Tibet and Mr. Tseten S. Chhoekyapa, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Central and Eastern European Countries based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mr. Langmo Gombatsang explained the evolution of Chinese government's education policy in Tibet. He said that Tibetan language wasn't in his school curriculum. All subjects were taught in Chinese language. While in school, he like many other Tibetan students doesn't know how to write their names in Tibetan. He said that it was the efforts of the late Panchen Rinpoche who ensured that Tibetan language was given greater attention in school curriculum when he saw Tibetans were deprived of Tibetan language education. He said that the Chinese officials consider Tibetan language, culture and religion as threat to the Chinese totalitarian regime in Tibet.
Mr. Tseten S. Chhoekyapa, Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama gave an overview of human rights and political situation inside Tibet. Then the documentary film "Tibet: Murder in the Snow" was screened after a short introduction by Mr. Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon, Representative of the UNPO as moderator of this event. Many NGOs including Representatives from Foreign Missions to the UN were attended.