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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

United Nations Review of China: Beijing's Tibet Gag Lobby

February 3, 2009

Phayul [Sunday, February 01, 2009 11:16]
Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent

United Nations, Geneva, 30 January – As China come under the examination
by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the UN Human Rights
Council, several sources say that the Chinese Mission to the United
Nations in Geneva is trying a gag UN Members, especially Western
countries from raising questions on Tibet. One source told this report
that China was attempting this lobby by asserting that Tibet is "an
internal affair."

"Such a conduct by China can really put a big question on the whole
credibility of the UPR mechanism. We have been lobbying governments that
it is crucial for them to put Tibet on high priority when China faces
the UPR," reacted Ms. Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of International
Campaign for Tibet Europe, in Amsterdam.

China's human rights policy and record will face the UPR on 9 February
morning for three hours where all UN Members have the right to make
general statements, ask questions or convey recommendations. During the
three-hour discussion with the Chinese delegation which will be webcast
live by the United Nations, observers like NGOs have no right to make
oral interventions.

China's national report which becomes one of the three official source
documents for the review remains totally silent on Tibet. But the report
says that China "adheres to the principle that all ethnic groups are
equal and implements a system of regional ethnic autonomy in areas with
high concentrations of ethnic minorities. Organs of self-government are
established in these autonomous areas to ensure the exercise of
autonomous rights, including the right to enact legislation and the
right of ethnic groups to independently administer their affairs in such
areas as the economy, education, science, culture and health."

While commenting on the China report, Mr. Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, the
Representative of H. H. the Dalai Lama in Geneva told this report: "This
kind of approach should be recognized as a clear indication of China not
fulfilling its obligations and cooperation with UN human rights
mechanism and the Human Rights Council must hold China responsible for
the gross violation of human rights in Tibet."

A high number of NGOs have submitted reports in connection with the UPR
of China and these reports as required have been compiled into a 10-page
official document by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR). However, concern has emerged among a section of NGOs on
the credibility of this particular document questioning the credibility
and independence of some 19 submissions from China, including by
Government-organised NGOs (GONGOs) like United Nations Association of
China and China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS).

For example, one of the submissions came from China Association for
Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC) supporting
China's policies and position in Tibet. In the first paragraph of their
report, CAPDTC makes a political statement similar to the languages used
by China, claiming: "The democratic reform of Tibet in 1959 put an end
to the serfdom system and theocracy. A million serfs and slaves got the
rights of a person. Tibet has since entered the new era of social
development and human rights progress."

While diverting the blame of the mismanaged policies of the Chinese
authorities, the report concludes that "due to the weak foundation of
economic and social development, high altitude, extreme cold and lack of
oxygen, the economic and social development in Tibet still lags behind
many other areas in China. And there is still room for improvement in
the human rights situation in Tibet."

One analysis of the OHCHR compilation said that it reflects almost 40%
of the position expressed by submissions from China. "For example, while
the Tibetan Women's Association's report criticized the Chinese
government's practice of discouraging the use of the Tibetan language,
OHCHR's summary report quoted instead the China Tibetology Research
Centre's claim that the Tibetan language is now widely applied in the
education system in TAR, and that the study and use of the Tibetan
language are high on the agenda of various levels of governments."

U.S. based-The Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group which did the
analysis said that "gross and systematic human rights violations against
the Tibetan people have been omitted from the OHCHR summary" when
submission representing 16 different NGOs had in their reports raised
specific human rights violations committed against the Tibetan people by
the People's Republic of China (PRC).

In September 2008, the Tibetan UPR Forum representing 9 NGOs submitted a
joint report to the Human Rights Council's UPR Working Group, detailing
the human rights crisis in Tibet and calling for UN human rights experts
to given access for fact-finding missions to Tibet. The report in
conclusion said: "Addressing the ground realities in Tibet in
cooperation with the Dalai Lama is the Chinese government's only path to
legitimacy in Tibet and the peaceful development of Tibetan areas.
Members of the UN Human Rights Council must do all they can to
acknowledge and address those ground realities, and to compel their
Chinese counterparts to respect the human rights of all China's citizens
and to engage sincerely with the Dalai Lama in order to bring respect,
welfare and peace to Tibet."

Despite China's gap attempts to ensure that the human rights situation
on the Tibetan Plateau is not raised at the UPR of China on 9 February,
one government has already raised Tibet in an advance question to China.
Sweden in its question states: "Credible reports have highlighted that
religious minorities, such as Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, are
facing increasing restrictions on their freedom of religion and their
culture in the aftermath of last year's events in Tibet and Xinjiang.
What steps are the Government of the PRC taking to remove any
restrictions on the freedom of religion, culture, and expression in this
regard?"

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) when highlighting this
new mechanism created at the highest UN governmental human rights body
states that it "is a unique process which involves a review of the human
rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years" and
"is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights
Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what
actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their
countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. As one of the
main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal
treatment for every country when their human rights situations are
assessed."

When the UPR began its work in 2008, the human rights situation in 48
countries was considered by the mechanism whose schedule will have
covered all the UN Members by 2011. In December 2008 after observing the
UPR of Israel, Ms. Gaby Goldman from the daily Maariv in Tel Aviv when
interviewed by Human Rights Tribune said: "To me as an Israeli, their
report was very interesting. It was really good on domestic issues, and
a very nice summary of the stuff that is going on in Israel, a large
part of which I didn't know myself. But then again, while there is a
need to improve women's rights in Israel, or disabled rights, or freedom
of religion of stuff like that, but the major, major, issue is the issue
of the Palestinians. Even for me, as an Israeli, it was a mistake that
those issues were not even mentioned."
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