Human rights violations on rise in Tibet: report
Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, January 7, 2002
- The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy ( TCHRD ), said today that contrary to Chinese propaganda of an improvement in the human rights condition in Tibet, the number of political prisoners was on the rise with 10 deaths in detention being reported along with religious repression.
Addressing a press conference here today on the occasion of the release of the annual report of TCHRD, Ms Youdon Aukatsang regretted that during the past 12 months, the number of persons held for exercising the right to freedom of opinion, expression and religion had risen to 254. ³The Buddhist institutions faced increased restrictions imposed by Chinese Communist Owork teams¹, besides the expulsion of 9804 religious practitioners and the closure of some institutions,² she stated. Those found to be in possession of pictures, video or audio tapes of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, were also arrested.
In the light of the events following the September 11 attacks, it is more vital than ever for the international community to respect human rights and not violate them in the name of ending terrorism, as China has done with regard to Tibetans,² observed Ms Aukatsang. She said the annual report of the centre had been documented using the framework of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Drawing primarily on testimonies of recently arrived refugees from Tibet, the report turns the spotlight on Chinese claims of having improved the living conditions of the Tibetan people through the government¹s ³modernisation² programme. Ms Aukatsang said the report showed that the kind of development taking place inside Tibet, was based on the political needs of the Chinese Government and did not respect the needs or interest of the Tibetans. She regretted that Beijing¹s claims of having developed Tibet seemed to have been accepted by the international community, as indicated by the entry of China into the WTO in 2001 and the success of its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2008.
She said the Communist regime was encouraging population transfer from China even though the Tibetans were struggling to eke out an existence . The Tibetan children were unable to get education as very high fees were being charged and the medium of instruction was Chinese, she said.
International studies have revealed that the level of malnutrition, tuberculosis and poverty-related diseases is on the rise in Tibet, she added.
For the first time the annual report also examined the rights of Tibetan refugees who flee Tibet to escape human rights abuse. A total of 1375 Tibetans fled to India, while about 2500 of them were arrested on the Tibet-Nepal border by the Nepali police. ³The cases of Tibetans being returned to the Chinese police is a worrying departure from the Nepali Government¹s policy of allowing Tibetans to pass through Nepal on their way to India,² Ms Aukatsang said. She said the arrest, imprisonment and torture of those caught while trying to cross over to Nepal causes further trauma to Tibetans.
2. New Report on Human Rights Violations in Tibet in 2001
Press Release 7 January 2002 The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) today released its Annual Report on the Human Rights Situation in Tibet. Drawing primarily on testimonies from recently-arrived refugees, the Report details massive human rights violations in the past twelve months. Evidence of these violations fly in the face of Chinese government propaganda which advertised an improvement in the living conditions and human rights situation in Tibet in
Freedom House, the New York-based freedom and democracy watchdog, recently rated Tibet as one of the worst areas in the world for civil liberties and political rights. Youdon Aukatsang, TCHRD Senior Programme Officer, said "In the light of the events of September 11, it is more vital than ever for the international community to respect human rights, not to violate them in the name of anti-terrorism as China has done in relation to Tibetans."
For this Annual Report, TCHRD has documented human rights abuse using the framework of the two major human rights instruments, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which was ratified in March 2001, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
China's "Strike Hard" campaign was re-launched this year targeting political dissent in Tibet. TCHRD's Annual Report counts 37 new arrests, bringing the number of 254 Tibetan political prisoners currently incarcerated for exercising the right to freedom of opinion, expression, religion, movement and assembly. Many Tibetans were beaten or tortured while in detention, with at least 10 reported deaths in 2001. The Report details the way in which Buddhist institutions faced increasing restrictions and expulsions by Chinese Communist Party "work teams" in 2001, including the expulsion of
9,804 religious practitioners and the closure of at least two institutions.
Ordinary Tibetans who refused to denounce the Dalai Lama, or possessed pictures, video tapes or audio tapes of the Dalai Lama's were also arrested or imprisoned With China continuing to claim that civil and political rights are less important than economic rights, in this Report TCHRD turns the spotlight on China's claims to have improved the lives of Tibetan people through the government's "modernisation" programme. Despite ratification of the ICESCR, Tibetans suffered serious breaches of such rights, including the following.
· Right to livelihood: the Report shows that in 2001, Beijing implemented economic policies in Tibet designed to enrich the Chinese government and encourage population transfer of Chinese settlers into towns and cities of Tibet, while the plight of the vast majority of Tibetans who struggle to eke out an existence in rural areas was ignored.
· Right to education: high fees and the increasing use of the Chinese language as a medium for education meant that most Tibetan children in rural areas did not receive education past primary school. In 2001, almost half the refugees fleeing Tibet were children in search of education.
· Right to health: the Report examines international studies published in
2001 showing unacceptable levels of malnutrition, tuberculosis, and other poverty-related diseases in Tibet. High fees and a lack of Tibetan medical staff restricted Tibetans in their access to medical treatment. The Report also warns of the potential for an HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tibet, given that there are no testing, prevention or treatment facilities in Tibet, and that China's birth control policy puts the emphasis on sterilisation of women rather than promotion of safe sex · Right to housing: many Tibetans were denied their right to adequate housing; 10,000 people were forcefully evicted; rural Tibetans were denied basic housing services like water and electricity; and new housing was designed to meet the needs of the growing Chinese population and not those of Tibetan people.
Youdon Aukatsang of TCHRD said "our Report clearly shows that the kind of "development" occurring in Tibet is based on the political needs of the Chinese government and does not respect the needs or interests of Tibetans.
Beijing's claims to have developed Tibet seem to have been accepted by the international community, with 2001 also witnessing China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and the success of their bid to host the Olympic Games in 2008."
For the first time in an Annual Report, TCHRD has also examined the rights of Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet in search of protection against human rights abuses in 2001. A total of 1,375 Tibetans reached India, the number being lower than previous years due to the arrest of at least 2,500 Tibetans on the Tibet/Nepal border. Of those who did manage to cross into Nepal, several instances were recorded of Nepali police forcefully returning asylum seekers to Tibet, or arresting them for failure to possess travel documents.
These cases are a worrying departure from the Nepali government's generous policy of allowing Tibetans to pass through Nepal on their way to India. "To leave Tibet, refugees face a dangerous journey across the Himalayas into Nepal", said Youdon Aukatsang of TCHRD. "To then deport them back to Tibet, where they will face arrest, imprisonment and torture, or to imprison them in Nepal, causes even further trauma."