The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which released its ‘Concluding Observations’ in its third periodic review of China in its recent report, underscored a number of issues related to human rights of Tibetan people under the Chinese government which require serious and urgent attention of the international community, Tibet Press reported.
These issues include a serious onslaught on Tibetan culture and religion, forced relocation of nomad communities, poor treatment and exploitation of Tibetan culture, and brainwashing and forced assimilation of Tibetan children through Chinese Communist Party run boarding schools, as per the Tibet Press report.
Freedom House, a global watchdog of human freedoms around the world released its report titled “Freedom in the World 2023 Report” on March 9 ranked Tibet as “World’s least-free country” along with South Sudan and Syria. The report has been successively released for the third time after similar Freedom House reports in 2021 and 2022 that Tibet has won the dubious distinction of being ranked at the bottom of community of nations.
In its own method of grading political rights and civil liberties, the organization gave minus 2 marks out of a possible 40 for possible rights and 3 marks out of 60 for civil liberties in Tibet which places the region with a total score of 1 out of 100, as per the Tibet Press report.
Freedom House in its report found that both Chinese and Tibetans living in Tibet lack basic rights. However, the Chinese authorities are particularly rigorous in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of Tibetan religious beliefs and cultural identity, as per the news report.
Reacting to the report of Freedom House, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a prominent Tibet advocacy group in the USA and Europe, said, “After more than six decades of illegal occupation, China has turned Tibet into the world’s least-free country…. With Tibet once again at the bottom of Freedom House’s global freedom scores, it’s imperative that the global community take action to resolve the decades-long conflict in Tibet,” as per the news report.
The ICT also mentioned about the bipartisan bill which was recently presented by Democratic and Republican representatives of US for passing “Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act” which acknowledges Tibet as an ‘unresolved’ issue and makes it an official US policy that China must resume talks with Dalai Lama to determine Tibet’s legal status under the international law, according to the news report.
Tibet watchers have regularly expressed disappointment at what they term as “return of Mao’s Cultural Revolution” in Tibet since Xi Jinping took over as Chinese President. His openly expressed aim of wiping out Tibet’s distinct cultural and social identity by assimilating Tibetans into a “uniform” Chinese identity has given rise to fears among the Tibetan population and human rights watchers around the world, Tibet Press reported.
During his visit to Tibet in July 2021, Xi addressed a widely attended meeting of Chinese administrative officials of Tibet and the local Communist cadres to call upon them for taking necessary measures to convert Tibetan Buddhism into a ‘Buddhism with Chinese Characteristics’.
His call for attack on religious faith of Tibetans exposed the failure of Chinese authorities to “tame and discipline the Tibetans even 70 after their colonial rule over Tibet,” Tibet Press reported. Xi and other communist leaders of China have many times expressed their frustration over the Tibetan people’s continuing faith in Buddhism and their love for the Dalai Lama who was forced to flee Tibet and take asylum in India in 1959.
The United Nations Committee has also mentioned China’s ongoing campaign of putting an end to the traditional lifestyle of Tibetan nomads who regularly migrate along with their yaks, sheep, and cows with changing seasons, as per the Tibet Press report. These nomads account for about one-third of original Tibet’s six million population.
The Chinese authorities have been forcing Tibetan nomads to sell off their animals and settle into designated, small, and newly developed crowded settlements where a strong Chinese surveillance system can keep them under close watch, as per the news report.
In the report, the UN Committee has highlighted “coercive labour programs implemented in Tibet and a systematic ban on the use of the Tibetan language.” The report has particularly focused on “the Chinese government’s extensive resettlement policy and forced assimilation of Tibetan children at state-run boarding schools.”
The concern has gained international momentum over recent years after reports from China-controlled Tibet that hundreds of thousands of Tibetan children, many of them as young as four years old, are being forcibly taken away from their families and are being admitted to residential schools which are run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadres.
Tibetan Youth Congress GonpoDhundup has said that these residential schools, controlled and run by the CCP remind of the residential schools “which were established and used by the colonial occupants of North America and Australia.”
GonpoDhundup noted that Xi Jinping is also using a similar way to convert future generations of Tibet who would look Tibetan in their physical appearance but their brains and hearts will be programmed as “perfect communist cadres of China,” as per the Tibet Press report. The UN Committee report has called for independent international investigations into the current Tibetan situation.