10 December 1948 marked the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). A resolution of the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” in respect for human rights.
Member States of the United Nations including China pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Originally the Declaration was conceived as a statement of objectives to be achieved by Governments. However, the fact that it has been accepted by so many States has given it considerable moral weight. In 1968, the UN International Conference on Human Rights agreed that the Declaration “constitutes an obligation for the members of the international community”.
On December 10, 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for His continues struggle for peace and human rights through Non-Violence. This also marked an important turning point in the history of the Tibetan struggle for freedom in the international community.
However, China as a member of the United Nations and the international community, has failed to respect the principles set forth in the Declaration of Human Rights. Chinese authorities continue to practice a systematic denial of human rights of the Tibetan people.
During 2004, TCHRD has documented, among others, the following events:
- TCHRD received information of 13 new arrests of Tibetans suspected of political activities;
- Tsering Pel, a monk in Machen County in Amdo, was shot dead by Chinese authorities for what seemed to be a verbal scuffle;
- Yeshi Gyatso, a political prisoner, died within a month after his release from a detention Centre in Lhasa. It is believed that he died as a result of torture he suffered in prison.
- Three Tibetans were arrested for protesting against mining activities authorised by the local Chinese government in the Sog County (Ch: Suo Xian) on 4 September, 2004;
- Trulku Tenzin Delek accused on charges of “terrorist acts” and sentenced to death, faces an uncertain fate as his two-year suspended death sentence draws near;
- Over 150 Tibetans still remain detained in the various prisons in Tibet for exercising their freedom of expression;The Panchen Rinpoche, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and many more senior religious leaders’ whereabouts still remain unknown;
- China announced the launch of the “strike hard” campaign in Lhasa in October 2004. The Campaign gives unlimited authority and powers to the police to clamp down on Tibetans.
The 2nd session of the 10th National People’s Congress in March 2004, made an historic amendment to the Constitution of China by adding the words “human rights“. It said, “The State respects and safeguards human rights“. However, the amendment fell short of details, leaving the interpretation of the term “human rights” open and ambiguous.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, expresses its concerns over China’s use of the terms – “State secrets” , “social stability” and “public order crimes”, etc., that are being increasingly used against Tibetans to arrest and imprison them. The Centre believes that so long as such excuses continue to be used by the authorities, any amendment to the Constitution will not make a difference.
On the 56th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, TCHRD would like to urge the international community to remain vigilant of China’s human rights policies and practices in Tibet. The Centre would also like to call upon the Chinese government to respect and comply with international standards of human rights practices.