The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) deplores that no country will sponsor a resolution on China’s human rights records at this year’s United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), currently in session at Geneva. On 17 March 2005 the US government announced that it has decided not to introduce a resolution critical of China’s human rights at the Commission.
Resolutions at the UN Commissions are potent tools to criticize human rights records of countries that abuse the fundamental human rights and freedoms of its citizen. Just tabling a resolution against a country is considered by many UN member states as a major loss of face value, especially by People’s Republic of China(PRC) who gives lots of emphasis on its image building process. A resolution symbolizes a poor human rights record of the country.
This year marks the second time in three years that the U.S. has failed to sponsor a resolution at the UN that seeks condemnation of China’s human rights record. Since 1990, attempts to pass resolution on China by the US and the European countries have failed consistently due to heavy Chinese lobby and pressure. In 1995, China’s no-action motion had defeated a resolution on China by one vote.
The PRC has been using a variety of diplomatic tactics and procedural maneuvers to avoid censure at the U.N. Commission by exerting political and economic pressures. The PRC has succeeded in allying on its side many developing as well as developed countries. Now that the US has decided not to introduce a resolution it indicates that China has finally succeeded in maneuvering the world’s only superpower. This indicates that powerful nations like China can be let to violate international human rights law and its own domestic law with impunity.
Human rights situation in Tibet continues to remain poor. This has been confirmed by most monitoring human rights agencies, most notably in recent times by the US State Department Report on China’s human rights record. TCHRD has received information that 21 Tibetans have been arrested for allegedly engaging in peaceful political activities since January 2004. More than 145 known Tibetans still remain detained in the various prisons in Tibet for exercising their fundamental human rights; the whereabouts and well-being of Panchen Rinpoche, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima still remains unknown; many senior religious leaders have been facing persecution for their religious beliefs and political loyalty; Trulku Tenzin Delek and Bangri Tsamtrul Rinpoche, two prominent religious leaders from eastern Tibet currently serves life imprisonment sentences after commutation from death penalty on framed charges. China re-launched the “strike hard” campaign in Lhasa in October 2004 that gives unlimited authority and powers to the police to clamp down on “separatist” activities of Tibetans in Tibet.
The PRC continues to reject multilateral processes on its human rights record, including censure at the annual UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The PRC maintains that such action as interference in its “internal affairs”. It prefers to have bilateral human rights dialogue so as to deflect public condemnation on its human rights record at multilateral fora. But bilateral exchanges over the years have shown that it has failed to improve human rights situation in China, more notable in Tibet. Such dialogues are without transparency, benchmark or timeframes for assessment. Rather it has only resulted in the occasional release of some prominent political prisoners and have not served as a deterrent for China to commit future human rights violations. These releases do not alter the laws and practices regularly used by the Chinese authorities to detain and imprison individuals for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of _expression, association and other fundamental rights.
As a human rights organization, TCHRD reminds the international community that China has continued to commit gross violations of human rights in Tibet which warrants immediate attention and intervention by the UN and its member states. TCHRD urges the People’s Republic of China to respect and guarantee fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people through proper legal provisions and effective implementation. TCHRD further calls upon the UN member states to engage in effective policies of persuasion and pressure on China to help improve its human rights record.