23rd Session of the Human Rights Council

The International Campaign for Tibet amplified the voices of Tibetans at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council which concluded on the 14th of June.

Elena Gaita, Policy and Advocacy Officer for ICT Brussels, spoke on Tibet for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions on May 30th.

Ms. Gaita’s intervention elicited a response from China. Ms. Gaita also made an oral statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education on May 31st.

Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. As of 1 April 2013 there are 36 thematic and 13 country mandates. Special Rapporteurs fall under the category of “Special Procedures” of the Human Rights Council which is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery. The Interactive Dialogues at the Human Rights Council allow for both States and NGO’s to comment on the Special Rapporteurs’ Report.

In addition to Ms. Gaita’s statements Mr. Ngawang Drakmagyapon spoke for Tibet on behalf of Helsinki Human Rights Foundation at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights and during the ‘General Debate on Human Rights situations that require the Council’s attention.’

The next session of the Human Rights Council will be held in September.


Statement delivered by Ms. Elena Gaita on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)


Statement begins at minute 55:00

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Human Rights Council: Twenty-third session
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue-Report of Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Mr President,

We wish to thank the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, for his report and for his continued communications with governments by raising pertinent cases of concern.

We raise this matter, especially in situations where independent observers are completely denied access to ascertain the ground realities. Furthermore, there are governments in this room who repeatedly fail to adhere to and implement recommendations by Special Procedure mandate-holders of this Council.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is one example here. As we dwell on document A/HRC/23/51 before this Council, it is alarming that on 26th November 2012, while about 1,000 Tibetan students were holding a peaceful demonstration in Gonghe against the release of an official Chinese booklet, which mocked the Tibetan language and labeled the series of self-immolations by Tibetans as “stupidity”, Chinese security forces fired warning gunshots and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. 20 students were reportedly injured, five of whom are presently hospitalized in critical condition. Four students were arrested in the course of the operation.

Moreover, only a few days ago, on 24th May over 4,500 Tibetans gathered near Naglha Zamba, a sacred hill rich in mineral resources in eastern Tibet, to protest against its exploitation by Chinese miners…Local authorities deployed over fifty military convoys to the protest site.

Mr. President, the human rights situation in all Tibetan regions of the PRC has been deteriorating following the March 2008 overwhelmingly peaceful protests by Tibetan people against Chinese repressive policies, which led to the killing of more than 200 Tibetans by Chinese security forces. Despite the recommendations from the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, China has failed to open an independent investigation on the extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths of Tibetans.

We remain deeply concerned by the extent to which such conditions enable acts of impunity by governments and that the ability of Inquiry Commissions to bring the perpetrators to justice is highly unlikely to be realized.

In the total absence of independent monitoring, what further interventions has the Special Rapporteur undertaken with China, to seek clarifications on numerous and carefully documented reports of Tibetan deaths?

I thank you, Mr. President.
29 May 2013

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Reply to the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation groundless accusation against China

Helsinki Human Rights Foundation has always been holding an anti china position. And making attacks on China on a groundless basis. Their statement is full of false statements and lies. We all know that Tibet in China after the democratic transformation in China has undergone great changes in the social economic spheres. Today the freedom and rights enjoyed by people in Tibet is unprecedented today in Tibet. China is a country under the Rule of Law. The Chinese constitution guarantees the right to assembly and other rights. The Human Rights Council is a forum for genuine dialogues and co-operation for all parties. It should not become a venue for the so called Human Rights organizations to usurp this forum to make false accusations and making lies.

Thank you.

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Statement delivered by Ms. Elena GAITA on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Human Rights Council: Twenty-third session
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue – Report of Special Rapporteur on the right to education

Mr. President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Mr. Kishore Singh, for his report. In particular, we commend the Special Rapporteur for stressing again that States’ obligations for the right to education must be understood in terms of the right to quality education.

The Special Rapporteur has rightly observed the importance of protecting the right to education of marginalized and vulnerable groups and has also addressed the issue of the rights of minorities, including language rights.

As stressed in document A/HRC/23/51 before this Council, it is alarming that on 26th November 2012 Chinese security forces fired warning gunshots and tear gas to disperse about 1,000 Tibetan students protesting against an official Chinese booklet, which mocked Tibetan language.[1] In April this year, eight of these students were sentenced to up to four years imprisonment.[2]

The vast majority of Tibetans is disadvantaged both socially and economically by the inadequate provision of education. On paper, the quantity of educational institutions in Tibet has increased. However, the quality of education appears to offer little benefit to Tibetan children. As a result, among Tibetans there is an illiteracy rate of over 45%, which is diminishing their ability to actively participate in their own society.[3] Therefore, a high number of Tibetan children have fled Tibet to India to receive both traditional and modern education.

As stressed by the Special Rapporteur in his report, “a precondition for effective monitoring and review is a legal system that respects the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary as well as national human rights institutions and other quasi-judicial mechanisms. The purpose of adjudicating alleged violations of the right to education is to have a credible, independent body monitoring the legal compliance of State actors in the field of education”.[4]

Mr. President,

Effective monitoring of alleged violations of the right to education is currently not possible in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), particularly in situations like Tibet, Xinjiang and inner Mongolia, as judicial independence is not given within a single-party-State.

We are also deeply concerned by the fact that most schools in Tibet are Chinese-centric environments. The official language in most classrooms is Mandarin, which is not only difficult for Tibetan children to understand, as about 80% of Tibetans[5] do not speak Mandarin, but is also another method the government exercises to assimilate Tibetans in to Chinese culture.

We recall that in 2003, in the report on her mission to China, the then Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Mrs. Katarina Tomaševski, pointed out her dismay at the high illiteracy rate in Tibet and called upon the Chinese government to fully integrate human and minority rights in education policy, law and practice.[6]

In conclusion, we wish to ask the Special Rapporteur what actions he considers to undertake in order to follow up with China on Mrs. Tomaševski’s recommendations.
I thank you, Mr. President.


[1] A/HRC/23/51
[2] http://www.tchrd.org/2013/04/chabcha-student-protesters-sentenced-up-to-four-years/
[3] A. Fischer, “Perversities of Extreme Dependence and Unequal Growth in the Tibetan Autonomous Region” in Tibet Watch Special Report, August 2007: http://www.tibetwatch.org/Tibet%20Watch%20Special%20Report%20Andrew%20Fischer.pdf
[4] A/HRC/23/35
[5] ICT briefing paper “Education in Tibet”: http://www.savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Education-in-Tibet-paper.pdf
[6] E/CN.4/2004/45/Add.1

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Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights

Mr. President,

We wish to thank the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural have been chosen the theme of the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity in the current report submitted to this session of the Council.

The report states that the suppression of political dissent, the quest for nation-building and pursuit of hegemonic policies have always been prominent reasons for art censorship. In some countries, artistic expressions openly critical of a Government are still systematically suppressed. Lyrics, visual and performance art criticizing public figures or institutions (such as the police), or using national symbols (such as flags, the image of a monarch or head of State and/or Government, or the national anthem), may be censored…The accusation of “separatism” or ”terrorism” or being unpatriotic” can be levelled at artworks criticizing the Government.

In this connection, we wish to recall that last year 8 Special Procedure mandate-holders, including the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, conveyed an urgent action appeal to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in which it was stated that: “As many as 64 Tibetan intellectuals, including artists, writers, singers and teacher were allegedly arrested for excercising their rights to freedom of expression and participation in cultural life especiallly after March 2008. Allegedly, there whereabouts of 37 of the detained intellectuals, including artists, are unknown.”

Mr. President, while artistic expression unfavourable to a government’s ideology and policies is suppressed, there is also a situation when that very government uses medium of art and related platform to conduct its propaganda to legitimize its authority.

In this regard, allow us to give one example of a Chinese Communist Party propaganda song from 1964 called the “Laundry Song”, which was performed on the national television in August 2007 by Peng Liyuan, China’s First Lday Today, that in first verse says:

Hey! Who is going to help us turn over a new leaf? 
Who is going to liberate us? 
It’s the dear P.L.A.,
The saving star of the Communist Party.
 The army and the people are one family, 
Helping us to wash our clothes.

Mr. President, observers say that this song is meant to persuade the Tibetans of the People’s Libseratin Army’s virtues while for the relation of Tibetan and Chinese, the song puts the Tibetans firmly in a position of subservience, as natives, full of gratitude for the help of the benevolent People’s Liberation Army.

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Statement by Mr. Ngawang Choephel, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Human Rights Council: Twenty-third session
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention-General Debate

Mr. President,

As we observe the 20th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, it would also be crucial to seriously analyse, without double standards and selectivity, whether Member-States of the United Nations have implemented the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA).

In our view, the People’s Republic of China is one of the countries that has not fully implemented the VDPA considering the worsening of the human rights violations and abuses suffered by Chinese human rights defenders, Inner Mongolians, Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Mr. President,

In the case of the Tibetan people, their human rights and fundamental freedoms are systematically violated on a daily basis with impunity, intimidation and force. For example, peaceful protests to defend language rights and against mining operation on sacred sites are threatened with force or killed.[1] It has been observed that 50% to 80% of an estimated 2.25 million Tibetan nomads are being evicted from their ancestral lands. The figure of Tibetan political prisoners has now crossed to over 500![2] Tibetans even are sentenced to prison terms in secrecy with cases of enforced disappearances increasing. Sino-Tibetan talks[3] are not being resumed. Now, in the name of development, China is destroying Lhasa’s Old City where since 1993 many historic structures have already been destroyed.[4]

Mr. President,

We urge the Chinese authorities to fully implement the recommendations by Special Procedure mandate-holders of this Council and Treaty Bodies concerning the human rights situation faced by the Tibetan people. China must respond positively to the 12 outstanding requests for official visits by Special Procedures and without further delay receive the High Commissioner for Human Rights.[5]

In conclusion, we appeal to the Human Rights Council to shoulder its responsibilities and not to remain silent over the human rights crisis faced by Tibetan people with 118 reported Tibetans taking the tragic path of self-immolation protests as of 27 May 2013. The Council’s silence or inaction here will further encourage China to maintain its current policy of repression against the Tibetan people.

I thank you, Mr. President
4 June 2013


[1] The Special Rapporteur [on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association] remains very preoccupied about the on-going repression against peaceful protestors in China, in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region. He urges the authorities to protect and facilitate peaceful demonstrations, and refrain from using force during such demonstrations: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A.HRC.23.39.Add.2_EFSonly.pdf (page 16)
[2] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112shrg76190/pdf/CHRG-112shrg76190.pdf (page 166)
[3] Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People: http://tibetoffice.ch/web/mwa/memorandum/index.htm
[4] http://highpeakspureearth.com/2013/our-lhasa-is-on-the-verge-of-destruction-please-save-lhasa-by-woeser/
[5] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12729&LangID=E

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