A Tibetan singer named Palden has been sentenced on an unknown date a few months after his detention earlier this year in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,  Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo. 

While details on Palden’s imprisonment still remain vague, it has emerged that the singer was apprehended after he shared a patriotic Tibetan song on the Chinese social media platform KuaiShou. He was held in an undisclosed location for an extended period of time before getting sentenced on unknown charges. 

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To mark the 78th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) founding, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is releasing “Engaging with the Special Procedures”, a Tibetan guidebook on one of the most significant human rights mechanisms: the Special Procedures.

Part of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) framework, the Special Procedures constitute a vital cadre of independent human rights experts and working groups. As such, the mechanisms address a broad spectrum of thematic human rights issues, encompassing civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights.

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Despite concerns about its human rights record, China secured its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council with 154 votes, marking its sixth election to the Council. China’s repeated membership raises questions about the effectiveness of the UN’s human rights system and the need for reform in the election process, emphasising the importance of implementing a performance appraisal system to prevent habitual human rights offenders from participating in Council elections. The international community is urged to take action to ensure that the Council’s goals are not compromised and to support human rights advocates in China.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), represented by the executive director, Ms Tenzin Dawa, and researcher, Mr Ngawang Lungtok, actively participated in the working sessions of the 54th Human Rights Council session. This participation included attending side events, delivering oral statements, and meetings with various diplomatic missions and NGO partners based in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Ms Dawa and Mr Lungtok also raised the issue of transnational repression employed by the Chinese government to silence activists and dissidents beyond its borders.

Additionally, the diplomatic briefings were convened with due consideration for the broader context of the upcoming UN Human Rights Council elections, in which participating states will exercise their right to vote, choosing 15 members from a pool of 47 available seats. China seeking re-election to the council is of particular concern primarily because it does not fulfil the membership criteria, in addition to its egregious human rights records. 

In light of these developments, on 27 September, researcher Mr Ngawang Lungtok delivered an oral statement on behalf of the Asian Dignity Initiative during the general debate under Item 4 on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s attention. The full text of the oral statement is appended herewith:

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On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy organised a panel discussion featuring three former political prisoners and a human rights researcher moderated by the Centre’s Tibetan researcher, Nyiwoe. The session started with an explanatory video delving into the experiences of Tibetans subjected to enforced disappearance. Subsequently, TCHRD’s executive director, Ms. Tenzin Dawa, underscored instances of enforced disappearance, citing significant cases like that of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, abducted after being recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama, and referencing UN experts’ concerns. The discussion commenced with former political prisoners succinctly sharing their grim experiences of torture and enforced disappearances. Mr. Gendun Rinchen recounted his arrest for disseminating human rights information as a tour guide, while Mr. Ngawang Woebar was arrested for protesting in Lhasa. Former prisoner Geshe Tsering Dorje described torture methods and the dire treatment of Tibetan prisoners, while Mr Wangden Kyab emphasised China’s ongoing violations of its constitution and international obligations.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the continued persecution of the well-known Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who had been released from prison in 2021 after serving five years’ prison term on the trumped-up charges of “inciting separatism”.

Since his release from unjust imprisonment, Tashi Wangchuk has faced persistent restrictions  and limitations on his movement and activities even as he continued to advocate for the promotion and protection of the Tibetan language. 

The latest persecution faced by the Tibetan language rights advocate demonstrates that Chinese authorities will go to any lengths including engaging in mobster-style tactics to silence human rights defenders and activists.

On the evening of 19 August, while travelling from Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, to Darlag (Ch: Dari) County in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, he was followed by a vehicle. Subsequently, local police issued an order preventing local hotels from accommodating him.

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The release of writer Dhi Lhaden after four years of imprisonment raises concerns regarding his physical and mental well-being, exacerbated by the limited accessibility of information about his current situation. Having endured two years of incommunicado detention since 2019, he was charged with “disrupting social order,” a common accusation against human rights activists, and secretly sentenced to four years in 2021. Despite his expected release this year, it was delayed by two months, perceived as a result of cautious measures by Chinese authorities to control information flow. Lhaden’s unjust trial, preceded by isolation, potential coercion, and torture, further adds complexity. As a former monk and writer, his works illuminated the Tibetan perspective, encompassing hopes, wishes, and the overall plight.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) submitted a UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report ahead of the fourth periodic review of the People’s Republic of China in January 2024. 

The submission outlined a number of concerns and recommendations on specific human rights issues, including repression of Tibetan Buddhism, systematic attacks on the Tibetan language, freedom of expression and association, denial of legal rights of detainees and prisoners, and torture.

TCHRD will conduct a series of advocacy and lobbying activities in the months leading up to the review, targeting embassies in New Delhi and permanent missions in Geneva, respectively, so that States will raise the issues during the interactive dialogue with the PRC government.

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The Chinese authorities are systematically erasing the court verdicts of Tibetans charged with the vaguely worded and broadly defined crimes of
“endangering state security,” wiping them from public databases. This unlawful practice extends beyond Tibet’s Autonomous Region, resulting in secret trials and sentences for numerous Tibetans without any acknowledgement or information about their imprisonment. Human Rights Watch reports shed light on the absence of records for suspected state security cases involving Tibetan monks and the silence of Chinese state media.

The court verdict of Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language activist released in January 2021 after serving five years in prison on a trumped-up charge of “inciting separatism,” cannot be found on China’s national database of court verdicts. Equally troubling is that the persecuted activist was not given a copy of his verdict upon his release from prison.

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Prominent Tibetan activist A-nya Sengdra, the victim of unjust imprisonment for nearly five years on politically motivated charges, continues to endure further injustices.

Renowned for his campaigns against corruption and environmental degradation in his hometown, Sengdra and his eight companions received a seven-year sentence on 6 December 2021, more than three years after his detention and torture at the hands of local Public Security Bureau officers in Gade County.

Despite relentless efforts by his lawyer, Li Qilei, to appeal the verdict, the Chinese courts have consistently dismissed these appeals. Even the recent effort to inquire about his appeal case faced hostility and uncooperative personnel at the Sixth Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court.

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