Equality, the theme of 2021 Human Rights Day, is enshrined in the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. Article 1 of the UDHR highlights key human rights values of equality, freedom, rights, and dignity, which also lie at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Tibet, China’s draconian policies and practices have resulted in grave human rights violations in contrast to China’s commitment to promote the 2030 SDG agenda of social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental protection.
On his visit to Tibet in July this year, Chinese president Xi Jinping issued “Nine Musts” in which he strongly emphasized the need for Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism and intensification of cultural assimilation.
In clear and deliberate breach of domestic laws that confer regional autonomy to Tibetans and other so-called ethnic minorities, the Chinese Party-state is actively undermining Tibetan cultural identity, to better facilitate Tibetan assimilation into the notion of a single, Chinese race. Current policies now dictate that only a unitary, politically stable, socially harmonious China populated by a single zhongua race can be allowed to exist. This has resulted in the steady and consistent marginalization of linguistic, cultural, and social practices and identities of non-Han Chinese groups.
On 1 September this year, China enforced a regulation requiring Mandarin Chinese teaching in preschool education in Tibet. Mandarin Chinese is being promoted in the monastic communities, with monks required to study Tibetan Buddhism in Mandarin Chinese.
Tibetan intellectuals and influential personalities such as Go Sherab Gyatso have been targeted and detained arbitrarily.
Earlier this year, Chinese security officials conducted random searches of homes and mobile phones of local Tibetans in Wonpo Township and Sershul County in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham. The crackdown resulted in the detention of over 100 Tibetans.
To mark the 2021 Human Rights Day, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has released the Tibetan Political Prisoners Database (TPPD) to highlight the situation of political detainees tortured and imprisoned for exercising human rights.
Dating back to 1990, the TPPD currently has information on 5500 political prisoners. The database was compiled after reviewing older documents in TCHRD’s archive and crosschecking with other similar databases. The database includes county-level GPS coordinates of each prisoner’s place of origin.
We call on the international community including the United Nations, organizations, and individuals to pressure China to put an immediate halt to its state-sponsored policy of cultural assimilation in Tibet.
We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Panchen Lama and all political prisoners.
We urge the international community to take collective and concrete actions to stop China from committing human rights atrocities on its citizens and undermining international human rights norms and principles.