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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet issues highlighted at the UN session in Geneva

September 24, 2009 - 23 September 2009

Mr. TENZIN KAYTA speaking on behalf of Society for Threatened drew the
Council's attention to the situation in Tibet. He lauded the High
Commissioner for Human Rights for expressing concern over the human rights
situation in Xinjiang and Tibet. High Commissioner N Pillay in her address
last week to the Council, called upon the Chinese authorities "to respect
human rights in upholding the law" and encouraging them "to reflect on the
underlying causes of such incidents, which include discrimination and the
failure to protect minority rights."

Mr. KAYTA expressed great concern on the issue of population transfer of
Chinese settlers into Tibet threatening the very survival of Tibetan
culture. According to official Chinese publications, between 1990 and 95,
the total population on the Tibetan Plateau is 10,102,000, out of which
Tibetans constitute 4,821,500, only 48 per cent. He warned that if this
trend continues and the international community fails to intervene, the
Tibetans will disappear in a sea of Chinese settlers and of course, their
rich cultural heritage completely overwhelmed. He also drew the Council's
attention on the issue of Chinese government's resettlement programme of
Tibetan nomads.

The UN three Special Procedure mandate holders including Special Rapporteur
on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous
Peoples in its joint official inquiry to China on 3rd October 2007 stated
"these (resettlement programmes) policies have had a very adverse impact on
the traditional lifestyles and living patterns in Tibetan areas, affecting
directly the fabric of traditional Tibetan life and devastating the economy
of these communities. The implementation of these policies contributes to
the challenges that Tibetan cultural and religious identity face today." Mr.
KAYTA concluded by urging Chinese authorities to live up to the pledge made
in February that they would receive one Special Procedure mandate-holder
this year and also the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr. Douglas Griffiths, Deputy Permanent Representative, Chargé, ad interim
of U.S. Mission to the United Nation said, "We followed closely the recent
disturbances in China's Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region and last year's
unrest in Tibetan areas. We urge the Chinese authorities, as they work to
maintain order, to respect the safety and legal rights of all of China's
citizens and to make efforts to find a solution to legitimate grievances."

In the afternoon, a parallel event was also organised in the UN to discuss
on China's education policy in Tibet. The panelist included Mr. Lobsang
Nyima Langmo Gombatsang, ex-middle school teacher in Tibet and Mr. Tseten S.
Chhoekyapa, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Central and
Eastern European Countries based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Langmo Gombatsang explained the evolution of Chinese government's
education policy in Tibet. He said that Tibetan language wasn't in his
school curriculum. All subjects were taught in Chinese language. While in
school, he like many other Tibetan students doesn't know how to write their
names in Tibetan. He said that it was the efforts of the late Panchen Lama
who ensured that Tibetan language was given greater attention in school
curriculum when he saw Tibetans were deprived of Tibetan language education.
He said that the Chinese officials consider Tibetan language, culture and
religion as threat to the Chinese totalitarian regime in Tibet.

Mr. Tseten S. Chhoekyapa, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave
an overview of human rights and political situation inside Tibet. The
documentary film "Tibet: Murder in the Snow was screened after a short
introduction by Mr. Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon, Representative of the UNPO as
moderator of this event. Many NGOs including representatives from foreign
missions to the UN attended.
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