Footage Shows Buddhist Institute Demolition
New Delhi - April 18 (AFP)
- Tibetan rights group on Thursday unveiled smuggled video footage of the forced eviction of thousands of nuns and monks and the destruction of their homes in one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism in southwest China.
The 10-minute documentary, shown for the first time to reporters in New Delhi, was put together from assorted video clips brought out of China by monks of the Serthar Institute who fled on foot across the Himalayas into Nepal.
The footage showed Chinese "work teams" backed by paramilitary police personnel, using sledgehammers, picks and iron bars to systematically raze dwellings belonging to the nuns and monks studying at the institute in Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan province.
At the time the evictions and demolition began in June 2001, the institute was home to nearly 9,000 people, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said. The crackdown at Serthar came in the wake of a 1999 order by the Chinese authorities to cap the number of followers at the institute at 1,400.
One of the monks interviewed in the documentary said 50 trucks and jeeps "full of Chinese" had arrived at the institute on June 26. "Right away, they started to destroy thousands of houses of our monks and nuns. They used all their power to crack down on us," he said. The Serthar monastic complex, founded in 1980 to revive Buddhist scholarship and meditation, housed the largest concentration of monks and nuns in China. In addition to the Tibetans, it also had nearly 1,000 Chinese students from the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The institute was celebrated for its charismatic senior religious instructor, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, who has given Buddhist teachings across China and overseas. The TCHRD said Phuntsok and his niece had been taken into police custody when the evictions began and continued be held incommunicado in the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu.
While the official Chinese justification for the demolition was overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, TCHRD researcher Norzin Dolma said internal documents showed the institute was suspected of supporting Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and harbouring "anti-Chinese elements". Tenkyong , one of the monks who smuggled the Serthar footage out, said many nuns and monks had been forced to sign statements denouncing the Dalai Lama. "As far as we know, the destruction at Serthar is still going on," said Tenkyong, who arrived in Nepal in October 2001.
The video footage showed nuns sifting through the wreckage of their homes and gathering personal belongings prior to their forced eviction. "I am so sad and depressed," said one of the nuns. "I renounced my family to join Serthar and spend my life in religious studies. So when I was expelled, I felt like a fish flung out of water and left to die."
TCHRD said it had documented the eviction of almost 19,000 monks and nuns from religious institutions in Tibet in the past seven years. "The documentary completely contradicts China's claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet," said the centre's senor programme officer Youdon Aukatsang. "China may have escaped condemnation of their human rights record at the Human Rights Commission this year, but with evidence such as this, the world can no longer turn a blind eye."
Monks say secret film shows Chinese destruction of Tibet's largest religious institute
NEW DELHI, April 18 (AP)
- Buddhist monks wept in the rubble as Chinese authorities razed Tibet's largest religious institute and nunnery, two monks who secretly filmed the destruction and escaped said Thursday.
"We were frightened to see so many Chinese. Right away they started to destroy thousands of homes of our monks and nuns," monk Khempa Tenkyong, who fled from the Serthar Institute in the Sichuan province, just east of Tibet.
He was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia after a screening on Thursday by campaigners against China's occupation of Tibet of a 10-minute documentary pieced together with the smuggled footage.
According to the Tibetan Center of Human Rights and Democracy, more than 8,000 students were forcibly evicted and about 2,000 homes demolished by Chinese laborers through 2001 at the institute. It said the demolitions started on June 26, 2001.
Chinese officials on Thursday denied the institute had been ravaged. "This is not true. They have not been evicted. I don't think this video is the real thing," Yang Shuying, first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, told The Associated Press. "The Chinese government respects people in Tibet. (They) enjoy religious freedom," she said.
Tenkyong, dressed in a flowing saffron robe, and another monk, Paltrup, had escaped the institute by hitching rides at night to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to avoid Chinese security forces. From Lhasa, they said they walked for a month across the Himalayas to reach Nepal, from where they had come to India.
Tenkyong said Jigme Phuntsok, who founded the Serthar Institute in 1980 and is the most popular Tibetan religious leader living in Tibet, has been detained by Chinese authorities.
He also alleged that nuns at the institute were coerced to denounce the Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhists, and forced to sign documents vowing allegiance to the communist leaders.
The grainy video images showed men in suits and armed soldiers watching as workers with pickaxes and crowbars demolished huts along a hilly, grassy expanse, said to be part of the institute campus. Weeping old women searched for belongings in the rubble.
Tenkyong said the Chinese authorities spared the main Buddhist shrine at the institute. The Tibetan Center of Human Rights said 19,000 monks and nuns from different Tibetan sects had been evicted from their homeland over the past seven years. China claims that Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, and has run the region with a heavy hand since communist troops arrived there in 1950.
The Dalai Lama fled during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and has led a campaigns for autonomy from exile in northern India.
Tibetans tell of China's assault on hermitage
By Peter Popham, Delhi The Independent - London
19 April 2002
Two Tibetan monks have escaped from China to freedom in India with smuggled film that shows Chinese labourers using sledgehammers and pickaxes to destroy log cabins at an institute of Buddhist studies whose astounding popularity had alarmed Beijing.
The monks, Paldrub and Tenkyong, are the first witnesses to reach the outside world with accounts of a religious purge on a scale not seen since the winding down of the Cultural Revolution 25 years ago.
The mountain hermitage of Serthar, set in an arid and formerly uninhabited valley of dust and rocks 500 miles by dirt road from the nearest city, was established by a charismatic Tibetan monk, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, in 1980 with fewer than 100 students.
Attracting men and women from across all the traditional Tibetan Buddhist schools, and as many nuns as monks, its numbers soared to more than 8,000 within 21 years. On special occasions as many as 100,000 people would flock to attend.
Observers saw in Serthar an astounding revival of the Tibetan religious spirit that the communist Chinese had tried so hard to crush. Soon the hillsides above the temple buildings were covered by a forest of simple wooden cabins, housing students from all parts of Tibet and China, and even fromTaiwan and the Chinese communities of Malaysia and elsewhere. But last summer a large government demolition squad arrived in the valley, accompanied by police and soldiers, and destroyed more than 2,000 cabins. "Army personnel dressed in civilian clothes, and hired workers arrived in trucks," a student monk told researchers from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. "They were armed with spades, iron rods and cables ... The labourers worked from eight in the morning to seven in the evening ... [They] demolished 200 to 300 huts in a day."
In the film smuggled out by the monks, labourers in straw hats lay into the monks' frail homes, reducing them to chipwood, then cart the wood away to prevent rebuilding. "The huts were demolished with all household possessions and shrines still inside," one witness said. "The workers dragged out invalids and elderly residents, sometimes even dismantling roofs while the owners were still inside."
At the same time the authorities began to expel students under an order of April 2001 requiring more than 7,000 of Serthar's students to leave. Most have now been dispersed. The Chinese government's hostility to Serthar began in 1990, when Khenpo travelled to India to meet the Dalai Lama. From that time on, his thriving institute came to be regarded as a "breeding ground and hotbed" for "splittist activities of the Dalai clique".
Three years ago, Sonam, a 23-year-old nun, told a Western journalist: "We know our teacher is a great man. He has attained a higher level of knowledge than anyone in the nation, and what he cares most about is teaching."
Khenpo, aged 68 and in poor health, is being held at an unknown location in Chengdu, where he has apparently received treatment at the hands of an army doctor. The politically inconvenient patients of such medical staff do not always survive their treatment.
"Religious work" for the new century; the implementation of Party policy in Sichuan province
TIN Special Report
18 April 2002
Introduction In a reversal of the greater freedoms permitted in the early to mid-1980s, laws and regulations have gradually been introduced in Sichuan province to facilitate the exercise of greater official control over religious activity. The demolition of homes and the expulsion of monks and nuns at the well-known Serthar and Yachen Buddhist institutes in the province are examples of this shift in policy. This Special Report explores the context and collates new images, information and analysis of the current situation at one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism remaining in Tibet, the Serthar institute, also known as Larung Gar. The report is based on interviews, photographs, video material and analysis of official Chinese policy statements and is in three parts as follows:
1.) Images (still photographs and video footage) depicting the extent of destruction of nuns' and monks' homes at the institute. (1)
2.) Eyewitness accounts of demolition at Serthar and the expulsions of monks and nuns.
3.) A contextual account of the Chinese policies that have led to religious repression in Tibetan areas of Sichuan.
New images of demolition at Serthar Buddhist institute New images obtained by TIN of the extent of destruction of nuns' and monks' homes at Serthar Buddhist institute in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) prefecture in Sichuan, can be viewed on TIN's website at: (<http://www.tibetinfo.net/reports/trel/ser1.htm> ). This material gives a vivid portrayal of the devastation at Serthar following the arrival of the work teams, supervised by uniformed police officers, in June and July 2001. The images of nuns and monks collecting belongings from the rubble of their destroyed homes, most of which were solidly-built timber structures, indicate that demolition was carried out suddenly, leaving residents with little time to remove their possessions. These images contradict Chinese official claims that reports of homes being torn down at Serthar and hundreds of monks and nuns being expelled are "ill-founded".
The authorities primarily targeted nuns' rather than monks' homes for demolition. Reports indicate that well over 1000 dwellings, including the homes of some Chinese Buddhist students from China and overseas, have been destroyed since the work teams moved in last June and July and hundreds of monks and nuns have been forced to leave (see TIN News Update: Expulsions of nuns and students threaten survival of the institute,
19 August 2001 at <http://www.tibetinfo.net/news-updates/nu190801.htm>).
Two Serthar monks who have now left Tibet told TIN:
"They are meticulously clearing the area where the rooms and houses were destroyed, levelling the ground, grinding the remaining stones, to turn it into a beautiful area void of any traces of the destruction that took place. They are cleaning it up and planting grass. The [Chinese authorities] do not want evidence of this part of history to remain."
Chinese officials have denied the reports; they told the UK government during its human rights dialogue last year that nobody at Serthar "had been forced to give up their religious calling". Reports received by TIN, however, show that the actions taken by the authorities have had this effect. Removing monks or nuns from their monastic communities is to remove them from their teachers, peers, social environment and support system. Those who have been expelled from Larung Gar and who are unable to rejoin a monastery or nunnery can continue their religious life to some extent by study and prayer at home. But it is very difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to pursue full-time religious study and development outside the setting of the monastery and without access to their teachers. Many monks and nuns who have been expelled from Serthar are known to have faced severe difficulties in terms of reintegration into monastic or lay life, and many have found that their only solution is to flee into exile.
Several months after the destruction of hundreds of nuns' homes at the Serthar monastic institute, official work teams moved in to another major monastic encampment, Yachen in Payul (Ch: Baiyu) county in Sichuan province to carry out demolition and the expulsion of nuns and monks. A Tibetan monk who spent many years at Yachen Gar before escaping into exile last year told TIN: "Many nuns [who were forced to leave] are now in retreat in the mountains nearby.
Many of them didn't have a nunnery to go back to, so they have nowhere to go. Also they wanted to stay near their religious teacher, Achug Khenpo [the head of Yachen Gar]. Only monks and nuns from Payul county were allowed to stay."
Like Serthar, Yachen Gar attracted hundreds of students from China, Taiwan and Singapore due to its high standards of Buddhist scholarship and its focus on meditation and spiritual discipline. All of these foreign students were reportedly ordered to leave last year. The International Campaign for Tibet reported that by 10 October 2001, more than 800 homes of monks and nuns had been torn down at Yachen Gar monastery, and monks and nuns who originated from outside the Payul county area had been instructed to leave (ICT, 14 November 2001).
Eyewitness accounts of demolitions and expulsions at Serthar The following two interviews were carried out with a nun and a monk from Serthar who escaped to India.
Their identities have been kept confidential in order to protect the security of those still in Tibet. They are unique testimonies of the demolitions at Larung Gar, and their impact on the personal lives of monks and nuns who were forced to leave.
The first interview is with a nun in her twenties who had spent many years at Serthar and was told to leave in 2001 after work teams came to Larung Gar. She and more than 20 other nuns went to live in the hills behind Larung Gar for a few weeks after they were told to leave. She later returned to Serthar and witnessed the destruction of nuns' homes before she left and escaped into exile.
Q: Did you build your house when you arrived there?
A:Yes. Before, all monks and nuns had to build their own houses when they arrived at the monastery. But now many of the houses have been destroyed by the Chinese.
Q: How many have been destroyed?
A: 1500. (2)
Q: Did you see them?
Q: Whose houses were they?
A: Nuns' houses.
Q: Was your house destroyed?
A: No, because there is another nun living there.
Q: Where is she from?
A: She is from Serthar county, she is allowed to stay at Larung Gar. But I am from another county so I am not allowed to stay there.
Q: How many nuns are allowed to stay there?
A: 400 nuns. (3) They are all from Serthar county. If you are not from Serthar county then you are not allowed to stay there. The Chinese said there were too many nuns living at Larung Gar and that the nuns whose native place was not Serthar had to leave.
Q: Does this same rule apply to the 1000 monks who are allowed to stay?
A: No, the 1000 monks are from all different places, not only from Serthar county. I don't know the reason why.
Q: What happened when the Chinese authorities first arrived in Larung Gar?
A: They asked us where we were from. I had to stay with all the other nuns from my county. (4) There was a meeting and officials from my county said we must return to our homes, and that if our families were nomads we had to help them with their work, if our families were farmers we had to help them with their farm work. The Chinese said I was not allowed to stay there and so I left. I went with some other nuns into the hills behind Larung Gar and stayed there for 24 days. (5) After that several of us returned to the monastery and saw that many of the houses had been destroyed. We felt very sad. The Chinese were still there and they said we weren't allowed to stay, and so I went to Lhasa with several other nuns.
Q: What did they say you should do if you had a home nunnery?
A: Even though there are two nunneries in my native place, I was not allowed to join them because I am new and the nunneries have already been told how many nuns can stay in their nunneries there.
Q: Could other nuns return to nunneries where they had previously been staying, for instance, if they had just come to Serthar for a few years?
A: If they were allowed to stay at their home nunneries then they could return to them. But there are few nuns at Larung Gar who have home nunneries [to return to]. Most of the nuns stay at Larung Gar because they cannot stay in other nunneries. (6)
Q: From which office were the officials who came from your county?
A: They were from my county Religious Affairs Bureau. There were several of them.
Q: Was the meeting attended by the monks from your county as well?
A: No, only the nuns, they spoke to the monks separately. Many nuns became ill [after the work teams came to Larung Gar]. They had bad stomachs, headaches, nose-bleeds. In Serthar county, they couldn't stay at the hospital. They were given medicine and injections [while] sitting on the grass outside the hospital.
Q: Why couldn't they stay at the hospital?
A: Because they had to pay RMB600 [US dollars 72; 50 sterling, an excessive amount for nuns who are frequently living on the poverty line] to stay there, and nuns don't have much money.
Q: How many days could they stay in the hospital if they paid RMB 600?
A: It wasn't a question of the number of days. If the nun wanted to stay in the hospital she had to pay RMB 600 immediately. But most nuns can't afford this. The Chinese [officials] said they were not sick, and that their condition resulted from not eating. Actually it was because they felt so sad.
Q: Did you go to this hospital?
A: Yes. One nun from my same home place was ill. I went with her. She stayed in the hospital for three days and we had to pay RMB600.
Q: What kind of illness did your friend have?
A: It was her heart, she had heart wind [a Tibetan term referring to depression and melancholy].
Q: Where is this nun now?
A: She is at her home with her parents, she doesn't have a home nunnery.
Q: Has she recovered?
A: No, she hasn't recovered.
Q: How many Larung Gar nuns were being treated at the Serthar hospital when you went with your friend?
A:More than 50.
Q: Did any nuns die?
A: Yes, I know of three nuns who died from "heart sickness", but I heard that many nuns died. One nun is from the same county as me. (7)
Q: When did she die?
A: I don't know which month. It was after the Chinese said they were going to destroy our houses. After this she died in her house.
Q: Was Khenpo Jigphun still there when she died? (8)
Q: When you left Serthar to go to Lhasa how many nuns were still there?
A: Most of the nuns had left. They were not allowed to stay there.
Q: Where had they gone?
A: Many nuns had gone into the hills around Serthar. They didn't have anywhere else to go and didn't want to return to doing farm work with their family. For young nuns it is difficult, they don't have a nunnery and they don't know what to do. Many are in Lhasa and some have returned to their homes.
Q: And what happened then?
A: I left Lhasa with some other nuns from Serthar and we came to India via Nepal. I was separated from my friends and later heard they had been sent back across the border to Tibet.
The second interview is with a monk in his twenties who has spent many years at Serthar. He was selected as one of 1000 monks who were allowed to stay at Serthar, but he said that he did not want to stay because of the problems there and returned his permit so another monk could stay in his place. He reports that the 1000 monks who were allowed to stay were chosen on the basis of the quality of their studies.
Q: How many years did you spend at your home monastery?
A: I didn't spend so much time there. When I was young I spent a few years there and sometimes I stayed there in the summer or for festivals, but most of the time I stayed at Serthar. I stayed there for about 10 years.
Q: Did you build your house when you arrived there?
A:Yes, I built this with RMB 5000 (604 US dollars; 417 sterling) given by my family.
Q: What happened at Serthar before you left?
A: The Chinese came to the monastery and told us that there were new rules and that only 1000 monks and 400 nuns were allowed to stay there. I was allowed to stay but I didn't want to stay there. After I saw what the Chinese [authorities] were doing there, I didn't feel happy staying. I also felt I should return to my home monastery. So I returned my permit so another monk could stay in my place.
Q: How were the 1000 monks who could stay at Serthar chosen?
A: The monks who are number one in their studies, number one in their monk's vows and number one in their discipline. The monks whose studies are the best were given permits and are allowed to stay at Serthar, the others had to leave. (9) The 1000 monks were from Qinghai, Sichuan, Lhasa, from all different places. The nuns who were allowed to stay must be from Serthar county, but the monks are from all different places.
Q: Who made this rule on how the monks were chosen?
A:The Chinese [officials who implemented the policies at Serthar]. The Kardze prefecture (Chinese: Ganzi) and Serthar county Religious Affairs Bureau issued permits for monks.
Q: What is written on this permit?
A: The monk's name and details, their photo and a stamp from the Religious Affairs Bureau. Monks did not have to sign or thumb-print their permits, and they do not state that the monks are against His Holiness or which prayers and studies they can do. This permit means that monks are allowed to stay at Serthar.
Q: Before you left Serthar did you see any monks' houses that had been destroyed?
A: A few Chinese monks' houses were destroyed, but not many. Most of the houses destroyed were nuns' houses. There were many nuns staying there because there are few other nunneries [in the area]. Nuns heard that if they returned to their native places they would have to sign a letter against His Holiness, (10) so many of them went to the hills near to Serthar.
Q: How many Chinese officials first arrived at Serthar?
A: First the United Front Work department and Religious Affairs Bureau [officials] arrived from Chengdu [the provincial capital]. They assessed the situation. Then different officials arrived from different counties. We were separated into groups according to the counties we were from. Then the United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau from our county took details of all the monks and told us the new rules. They said only 1000 monks were allowed to stay and that the other monks should leave immediately. There were a few hundred monks from my county at Serthar. A few officials came from my county and many others from prefectures.
Q: Is your house in Serthar still there?
A: Yes, most Tibetan monks' houses weren't destroyed.
Q: How many Khenpos are there at Serthar?
A: More than 300.
Q: Are the monks who are not allowed to stay at Serthar allowed to return to their home monasteries?
Q: Did the monks who are not allowed to stay have to sign documents about this?
A: No, they didn't have to write a letter but they had to say to the work team, "I understand 1000 monks are allowed to stay at Serthar and I will return immediately to my native place.'"
Q: All monks had to say this?
A: Yes. By autumn, I heard that most of them who were not allowed to stay there had left. Most of the nuns had gone to the hills. One nun who didn't want to leave was staying in her house. The Chinese went into her house and told her to leave. The nun was crouched on the floor, the Chinese [official] threw a tea cup against her head and it started bleeding, then they pointed a gun at her, she had no other choice but to leave. (11)
Q: Where did you go after you left Serthar?
A: I returned to my home area, then I had to return to Serthar to collect my things, I have books and scriptures there, and I cleaned my house for the new monk.
Q: When you went back this time how many monks and nuns were there?
A: Most of them had left. It felt very empty there.
Q: Were teachings and studies continuing?
A: Yes, except for Khenpo Jigphun's teachings, all teachings were being given.
Q: How many teachers are allowed to stay at Serthar?
A: Around 100. (12)
Q: Were there any Chinese monks still there?
A: A few Chinese monks and students were there, but they are not allowed to stay there, all Chinese monks and nuns were told to leave. (13)
Q: Have there been any changes to studies made by the Chinese authorities?
A: No. Monks can study Chinese, English and all cultural studies.
Q: Do monks have to study Chinese?
A: No, they don't have to study Chinese, but if they want to they can. (14)
Q: Where did you go after that?
A: Then I left Tibet. I travelled to the border areas and managed to get hold of a permit. A small group of us paid a guide to take us to Nepal. But he turned us in to the police when we arrived in Nepal. We were taken to a police station in Nepal and asked if we had any money. One woman in the group had RMB 4000 and so each of us had to pay 1000 RMB to the police, they said if we didn't pay they would return us to the Chinese police. [After we paid the money] the next day a vehicle came and took us to Kathmandu.
Party policy and religious restrictions The demolitions of homes and expulsions of monks and nuns at both Serthar and Yachen are part of a pattern of increasing control over religious activity in Tibetan areas of Sichuan province in a shift away from the greater freedom permitted in the early to mid 1980s.
The Chinese authorities have made increasing use of civil laws and regulations as a means of limiting the size of monasteries and nunneries in Tibetan areas and to reduce the numbers of monks and nuns, in line with the trend throughout the People's Republic of China of crafting legal mechanisms to enforce Party policy.
TIN research has found that between 1987 to 1994 there was growing concern on the part of the authorities about the lack of effective official control over religious activities. At the same time, sets of regulations and measures were produced at the provincial and local levels designed to facilitate greater official control. In the early to mid-1980s, the emphasis on "religious work" in Sichuan was on the opening and renovation of monasteries due to the easing of restrictions on religious practice. Later it shifted to the "management of monasteries", implying greater control on the part of the authorities (report by the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture's Religious Affairs Bureau in 1989). From the late 1980s onwards, the authorities imposed measures limiting the construction of new monasteries. In 1992, the Kardze Religious Affairs Bureau stated that new or renovated monasteries were being built without official approval, and warned: "The monasteries in our prefecture are already satisfying the requirements of the religious masses. The crux lies in improving the management. From now on, in principle, there will be neither restoration of monasteries nor opening of new places of religious activity...The relevant offices at all levels must firmly control and prohibit unauthorised construction or expansion of monasteries."
Measures imposed by the Sichuan provincial authorities in 1987 stipulated that monks from outside the province were not allowed to stay in Sichuan's monasteries if their status was not clear or if they had no ID; even if their status was clear they were not allowed to stay for more than five days without the approval of the local police station or the government. (For further information, see TIN's publication "Relative Freedom? Tibetan Buddhism and Religious Policy in Kardze, Sichuan 1987 - 1999 <http://www.tibetinfo.co.uk/publications/bbp/bbp33.htm> ).
Religious activity at the Serthar institute attracted increasing attention from the authorities from the mid 1990s onwards, culminating in the demolitions and expulsions last year. In the cases of both Serthar and Yachen, the apparent justification of the authorities appears to have been the "illegality" of construction and expansion of the institute beyond "permitted" limits, as well as the enforcement of quotas of monks and nuns. These issues relate directly to the new laws and regulations associated with the management of religion that have been introduced in Sichuan province since the late 1980s. While the Chinese authorities depict the limiting of religious practice and scholarship as arising from the normal processes of the legal system, the events at Serthar and Yachen are a clear example of how implementation of these laws has directly resulted in the suppression or control of civil, political and religious freedoms.
UK Expresses Concern on China's Conduct In Tibet
News Update from Tibet Bureau, Geneva, 1
9 April -
Mr. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom in his address to the 58th UN Commission on Human Rights yesterday, speaking as a guest speaker, said that his country "have serious concerns over China's treatment of dissidents and religious minorities, its use of the death penalty and torture, and its conduct in Tibet and Xinjiang. It is in China's own self-interest to deal with international concerns."
Last week as the Commission discussed the items that deal with economic, social and cultural rights, Mrs.
Tsewang Lhadon delivered an entire oral statement on Tibet on behalf of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). In this statement of 31/2 minutes, IFOR called upon the Commission to " to recognise the failure of the Chinese authorities to fully implement its obligations to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights." The full text of the statement is produced in this update.
On 16 April, IFOR delivered another statement on Tibet to highlight the current state of religious freedom in Tibet. The statement read by Ms. Tenzin C. Rubling called upon the Commission "to request China to accept a follow-up visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion and Belief, as desired by him since his initial visit in 1994. In particular, he should be allowed to visit Gedhun Choekyi Niyma, designated as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama, who has been held incommunicado by the Chinese authorities since May 1995 and who at the age of 12 is still the world's youngest political prisoner."
Another NGO, Society for Threatened Peoples in its statement on Items dealing with the Rights of the Child and Women's Rights expressed their concern "about the death of five nuns in Drapchi Prison following prisoners protests in 1998." The statement also spoke about the many cases of "forced abortions and sterilisation on Tibetan women" and the denial to Tibetan children to "learn their own language and culture."
A number of reports by the special procedure mechanisms of the Commission have this year highlighted the numerous interventions on specific cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese authorities, including those which took place in Tibet. The thematic Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Violence Against Women, Freedom of Religion and Belief, Housing Rights, Human Rights Defenders and the Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, have all referred to the numerous communications to China.
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