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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Press Statement: China's possible re-election to the UN Human Rights Council, a question of credibility

May 10, 2009

TCHRD Press Statement
8 May 2009, Dharamsala, India
Contact person: Mr. Tenzin Norgay
Phone: +91 98166 76427

The People's Republic of China's announcement to seek re-election to the UN Human Rights Council is an attempt to completely white wash its poor human rights record. The move also cast serious doubts on the credibility of the human rights body if China is given a second term in the forth coming election on 12 May 2009.

China as a state has failed miserably in terms of its human rights record in the whole of China and particularly in Tibet. This failure is clearly evident in Tibet in light of the Tibetan people's mass uprising against the State in spring last year. The Tibetans, in one voice in all the Tibetan areas in present day China, showed their discontentment and rejection of the Chinese rule which has been marked by gross violations of human rights.

In the aftermath of the spring 2008 uprising in Tibet, thousands of Tibetans still remain missing and scores have been jailed arbitrarily till date. Torture is endemic in the network of Chinese administered prisons in Tibet and used freely to extract confessions and break the nationalism of the Tibetans. Atleast 130 known Tibetans have been killed in police firing during the largely peaceful demonstrations. Atleast 230 Tibetans have been known to be sentenced to various prison terms in secret court trials with two Tibetans receiving death sentence and three others to suspended death sentence. All these court sentences are highly arbitrary and summary in nature, has been delivered quickly, in some cases as few as 45 days, without any due process of law.

Tibet is under virtual lock down and Tibetans inside Tibet live under a climate of fear. The slightest dissent against the state is least tolerated. Tibet currently is a highly millitarized zone and is effectively under de facto martial law and completely cut off from the rest of the world. Despite many international calls that have been made so far, China has systematically denied access to the media and international observers in Tibet.

Being one of the major players in the world today, China needs to exhibit qualities of moral uprightness and tolerance in order to be given prime responsibilities in global bodies. The UN Human Rights Council replaced the former Commission on Human Rights in June 2006 to better address the human rights issues in the world and to do away with the inadequacies of the previous body. The UNHRC was established on the premise that ?members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.?

However, with member states like China, which is amongst the most repressive states in the world today, the council's work and its credibility is seriously questioned. China's human rights record has been consistently worsening since 2008, with the Government tightening its policies of repression of dissidents. For all these reasons and more it is urged that China should not be re-elected to the Human Rights Council unless and until it can demonstrate not only by policy formulation but in practice its commitment to the protection of human rights of the Tibetan people in China.
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