China’s response to UN rights review blatantly ignores its persecution of Tibetans

GENEVA, March 14, 2019 – China’s response to a United Nations review of the country’s human rights record represents a blatant denial of the human rights crisis in Tibet and other regions, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said today.

China’s conduct at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in Geneva is a mockery of this important UN mechanism and shows that China has no intention of respecting international human rights principles and the credibility of the human rights protection system as a whole, ICT said.

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At Friday’s session, the UN Human Rights Council will discuss China’s response to more than 350 recommendations by member and observer states. China accepted those recommendations that applauded and whitewashed its policies and rejected those that called for improvement with regard to the rule of law and the freedoms of expression, assembly, association and religion.

The Chinese government also flatly denied unfettered access for UN experts to the country, indicating its aggressive stance on access to regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang (known to Uyghurs as East Turkestan).

Cynically, China bluntly stated that it would accept recommendations—such as calls to protect religious freedom—because, according to Chinese officials, those recommendations have already been implemented. For the victims of China’s repression, it is utterly beyond belief to hear the Chinese government make such claims and assert that “all its citizens are equal in front of the law.”

Since 2009, more than 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of the Chinese government’s policies, calling for religious freedom and the protection of their language, culture and rights. Criminal charges based on broad and vague legal clauses are used to detain human rights defenders, such as Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who was jailed, tortured and sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 after he appeared in a New York Times video calling for the protection of Tibetans’ ancestral tongue.

There are consistent reports of torture and ill-treatment of Tibetans, and any civil society activity outside government control is practically banned. Moreover, Tibetans are being subjected to China’s non-inclusive, top-down development policy.

Tibetans in Tibet have not had the chance to contribute freely to this UPR. They have not been included in any meaningful consultation in the process, which is meant to offer space for those affected by human rights violations and injustice.

ICT is concerned by the Chinese government’s apparent disregard for fundamental human rights principles, such as the universality and indivisibility of human rights. China’s response to the UPR process is another warning sign for those who advocate for a rights- and rules-based global order.

ICT calls on the international community to hold China accountable and demand an end to the injustices and human rights violations in Tibet.

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