China on the defensive as 11 countries challenge its policies in Tibet

Eleven countries spoke up to urge China to improve the human rights of Tibetans at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on October 22. The delegates cited the lack of religious freedom, minority rights, and access of UN officials to Tibet, and called on China to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama, during oral questioning at the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China’s human rights record.

The questioning represented a broadening and deepening of concern for Tibet from China’s previous UPR in 2009, when four countries specifically mentioned Tibet at the Council session. More than 130 countries spoke up on China’s rights record, with many critical, and some, such as Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Russia, supportive. Each country was given only about 50 seconds to make a statement.

At the end of the session, China dismissed the concerns of countries that highlighted concerns about its human rights record (see below). Its full reply to oral and written questions will be reported on October 25.

Below are excerpts from the oral remarks on Tibet along with the relevant time in the video. The video of the presentations can be found at, along with an index by country on the right side.

Canada (00.55.06): “Stop the prosecution and persecution of people for the practice of their religion or belief, including … Tibetans … and set a date for the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief.”

Czech Republic (01.06.43): “Protect ethnic and religious minorities including Tibetans and Uyghurs and stop all disproportionate policies against them while addressing their discontent in a non violent dialogical manner.”

France (01.18.17): “Given the concerns aroused by the human rights situation of … Tibet to follow up to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief to go to this region.”

Germany (01.20.19): “To ensure democratic participation of members of all ethnic minorities, and allow unhindered access to all minority areas including Tibet.”

Japan (01.55.04): “Human rights and the fundamental freedoms must be ensured for minority groups such as Tibetans and Uyghurs. Japan recommends that further efforts be made to securing all human rights, including cultural rights for minorities.”

New Zealand (02.20.47): “As a consistent supporter of dialogue to achieve meaningful outcomes that address the interests of all communities in Tibet, New Zealand recommends China resume the two way dialogue in Tibet”

Poland (02.27.44): “Poland notes the joint communications of eight Special Procedures with regards to alleged systematic attempts to undermine the rights to freedom of religion, culture and expression of the Tibetan Buddhist community. Poland recommends that China takes the necessary measures to ensure that the rights of religion, culture and expression are fully observed and protected in every administrative entity of China.”

Switzerland (03.15.13): “Switzerland takes note of the candidacy of China for the council. In this context Switzerland recommends that they facilitate visits of OHCHR and Special Procedures including to Tibetan and Uyghur areas”

United Kingdom (03.27.45): “We also remain concerned about the human rights situation in ethnic minority areas including … Tibet in particular with respect to the protection of cultural rights and religious freedoms.”

United States (03.30.00): “Protect the rights of ethnic minority groups including Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians, in accordance with the Chinese constitution and international human rights commitments.”

Iceland (03.35.16): “Facilitate the access of Special Rapporteurs on various human rights issues in Tibetan areas.”

In China’s final reply (03.36.40), its delegate said that, “Some countries in their comments equated security actions to protect civilians as ethnic cleaning, and called certain criminals in China as human rights defenders. Normal judicial procedures were called political persecution. This is a typical case of politicizing human rights… The best persons to know human rights in China are Chinese.”

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