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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."

UN human rights experts concerned about handling of China protests

April 11, 2008

UN human rights experts call for restraint and transparency as mass
arrests are reported in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding
areas in China

United Nations Human Rights - Media Centre
10 April 2008

GENEVA -- United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders have today
issued a joint statement of concern regarding the ongoing protests and
reports of high numbers of arrests in the Tibet Autonomous Region and
surrounding areas in China. They urge restraint and non-violence by all
parties, greater and unfettered access to the regions concerned for
journalists and independent observers, guarantees for the free flow of
information, and full implementation of international standards in
regard to the treatment of protestors and those detained, both in the
People’s Republic of China and in other countries in which protests are
taking place.

The mandate holders urge the Government of China to fully conform to its
commitment to freedom of expression and assembly, and to distinguish
between peaceful protestors and those committing acts of violence. The
mandate holders call for complete compliance with due process and fair
trial rights according to international standards for those detained or
charged with a crime, including provision of each person's name, the
charges against them, and the name of the facility where they are
detained or imprisoned, as well as ensuring access to legal defence. The
Government is called upon to lift restrictions imposed on the media,
including Internet websites, that limit access throughout China to
information concerning the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Information received by the mandate holders describes the arrest on 28
and 29 March of over 570 Tibetan monks, including some children,
following raids by security forces on monasteries in Ngaba County and in
Dzoge County in the Tibet Autonomous Region. According to reports,
arrests were made of those suspected of participating in protests and
those suspected of communicating with the exiled Tibetan communities.
The UN experts are deeply concerned by reports of security forces firing
on protestors and alleged killings. Amid concerns that independent
observers and foreign media have been restricted from accessing regions
in which protests have taken place, the United Nations experts call for
full access for independent observers and journalists to such regions
and complete transparency on the part of the authorities.

The Government of China has invited several fact-finding delegations,
including one consisting of journalists and another of foreign
diplomats, to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region. Such visits are no
substitute for granting access to those United Nations experts who have
requested a visit to China. While welcoming the Government of China's
previous invitations to United Nations mandate holders, it is
nevertheless urged to respond equally positively to outstanding visit
requests to enable mandate holders including the Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to carry out the
responsibilities entrusted to them by the Human Rights Council.

The mandate holders urge that protests are conducted in a peaceful,
non-violent manner, and that authorities in all countries in which
protests take place exercise restraint in their responses. They fully
support calls for dialogue and other measures with a view to achieving
long-term solutions that protect and promote the rights of all
individuals and groups in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

A draft of this statement was shared with the relevant Government. The
mandate holders welcome the indication received from the Government
about its willingness to engage in further dialogue about these and
other concerns and specific questions raised recently by the mandates.
They look forward to receiving further information and clarifications
from the Government and to engage constructively in efforts to
facilitate full respect for human rights standards, by all parties
concerned, in the handling of such protests.

This statement is issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;
the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions, Mr Philip Alston; the Special Rapporteur for the promotion
and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr
Ambeyi Ligabo; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,
Ms Asma Jahangir; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on
human rights defenders, Ms Hina Jilani; the Independent Expert on
minority issues, Ms Gay McDougall; and the Special Rapporteur on the
question of torture, Mr Manfred Nowak.
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