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UN human rights chief urged to make Tibet "urgent priority"

September 4, 2012

DHARAMSHALA, August 31: A global movement of Tibet advocacy groups has written an open letter to United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay, urging her to make Tibet an “urgent priority” in her second term in office, as the self-immolation toll in Tibet crossed 50 this month. 

The full text of the letter can be found here:

The International Tibet Network, a global coalition of 185 Tibet advocacy groups including the Canada Tibet Committee, while congratulating Pillay on the renewal of her mandate for two years beginning September 1, expressed deep concerns over her failure to speak out forcefully on the human rights situation in Tibet.

In the letter dated August 30, the group said there is “ample evidence” that China is the “primary violator” of human rights in Tibet and has thus failed in its responsibility to protect the Tibetan people and their rights under Chinese and international law.

“Given the history of Chinese rule in Tibet and the critical circumstances of the current situation, including more than 50 Tibetan self-immolations to date, we strongly believe that a qualitatively different response from the international community is warranted,” the letter reads. “Your active engagement on the Tibet issue is necessary to bring about such a response.”

The group noted that it is urging governments around the world to press China for an agreement on dates for the UN human rights High Commissioner’s visit to Tibetan areas that have been experiencing the most intense protests and crackdown. 

In March this year, following the month-long hunger strike by three Tibetans in front of the UN Headquarters in New York, Pillay had sent a letter, assuring that her office was working with China on finalising a date for her trip to Tibet.

In the letter, Pillay further added that she had "assigned special rapporteurs of the United Nations to look into the situation inside Tibet."

The International Tibet Network, while making a polite inquiry into what steps her office has taken since March towards fulfilling those assurances, expressed hope that the High Commissioner’s office will continue to exert “every effort” to get China to agree dates for such a visit at the earliest.

With the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council beginning on September 10, the group further called on Pillay to express concern over the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Tibet in her Update Report to the Council.

Two senior US Congress men, James P McGovern and Frank R Wolf, in a letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton this month had “strongly urged” the US to “work with partner nations and establish a contact group on Tibet to carry out strong, visible public diplomacy on this human rights crisis.”

The two suggested that the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting in September offered an “opportunity to take steps towards forming such a contact group.”
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