TCHRD participates in the 51st UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva

Ms Tenzin Dawa delivering oral statement at the 51st Human Rights Council Session

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) represented by the executive director Ms Tsering Tsomo and senior program officer Ms Tenzin Dawa attended working sessions of the 51st Human Rights Council session including plenary meetings, negotiations of resolutions, side events, delivering oral statements, participating in informal meetings with partner NGOs, and exploring advocacy initiatives at the UN in Geneva.

On 27th September, TCHRD’s senior program officer Ms Tenzin Dawa delivered an oral statement on behalf of International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) under Item 4 during the General Debate on the Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention. Below is the full text of the oral statement:

Madam vice-president, 

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation expresses serious concerns regarding the situation of  violation of cultural rights with reference to the intensification of forced cultural assimilation of Tibetans inside Tibet by the Chinese government. 

In recent years, repressive legal and policy measures were introduced to impose Chinese medium education starting from the preschool level. Non-governmental initiatives offering lessons in Tibetan language and culture have been suppressed1

Sinicization policies have also resulted in the systematic persecution of Tibetan intellectuals, educators, and cultural leaders; some of those have been victims of incommunicado detention and sentenced in secret without access to due legal process2

Throughout pandemic lockdowns, the human rights situation in Tibet continues to deteriorate3. Unprecedented controls on online communication is resulting in Tibet as an informational black hole. Restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, religion and expression continue to escalate4. We have registered cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of Tibetans for merely engaging in peaceful protests.

We call on this Council and the High Commissioner to address the human rights situation of Tibetans and to work together with China to ensure the protection of their cultural rights: their right to determine their own educational and cultural affairs as provided in the Chinese Constitution as well as the Regional National Autonomy Law and to immediately halt the closure of Tibetan language schools and imposition of Chinese medium education. 

We thank you.

From 26 to 27 September, Ms Tsomo and Ms Dawa held meetings and discussions with several UN special procedures and human rights officers at the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and specifically apprised them of the ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, liberty, security and expression due to the enforcement of zero-Covid policy in major cities in central Tibet particularly Lhasa. TCHRD team also submitted nine cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and enforced disappearance as well as follow-up information on previous cases.

Ms Tsering Tsomo (right) and Ms Tenzin Dawa (left) at the UN Human Rights Council Session

From 19 to 23 September, Ms Tsomo took part in a five-day program titled “Empowering civil society representation at the United Nations” in Geneva. The program, organised by the IFOR and funded by Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church of Italy, provided a learning opportunity to civil society representatives, with particular focus to human rights defenders from the Global South, and from minority and vulnerable groups, to take action as human rights advocates within the UN system. A diverse group of human rights advocates from Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Colombia, Japan, Benin, and the US took part in the program, where Ms Tsomo was able to do a presentation on the work of TCHRD and the urgent human rights situation in Tibet.

Ms Tsering Tsomo with the civil society representatives from the global south

From 19 to 22 September, Ms Dawa participated in the UN Advocacy Training organised by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Central Tibetan Administration in conjunction with the Tibet Bureau in Geneva. The training was aimed at informing and educating Tibetan human rights activists on effectively engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms so as to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in Tibet. 

Ms Tenzin Dawa speaking to the UN Advocacy Training participants
Tsering Tsomo making a presentation on Tibet for activists from the Global South at the John Knox Centre in Geneva.
  1. “Sucked our marrow: Tibetan language and education rights under Xi Jinping, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 11 May 2022,
  2. “China must end cultural assimilation campaign and crackdown on Tibetan intellectuals and cultural leaders”, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 27 December 2022
  3. “China’s zero covid policy must be compatible with human rights”, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 18 September 2022
  4. “China heightens restrictions after demolishing giant Buddha statue and Buddhist school”,  Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 30 December 2022
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