(TibetanReview.net, Feb18’23) – China has come in for a grilling over its record at a two-day hearing at the UN’s top human rights body, with rights advocates raising issues like the Sinicization and other severe abuses in of Tibet, Covid-19, reprisals against human rights defenders and a security law that crushed dissidents in Hong Kong. The occasion war the last two days of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights session in Geneva over Feb 15-16, when it reviewed China for the third time on the implementation of the world body’s Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
With advocates of China’s Uyghur minority protesting loudly outside, Chinese Ambassador Chen Xu and a delegation of about 40 envoys from China, Hong Kong and Macau faced questions from the UN Committee, which reviews respect for those rights in nearly all UN member states every few years, reported the AP Feb 17.
The report quoted a defensive Ambassador Chen as saying, “No one can claim a perfect record in human rights protection, as there is always room for improvement. China still faces multiple problems and challenges in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights,” including “glaringly unbalanced” development and “stumbling blocks” in some areas of reform. He has cited problems in areas like education, jobs, medical care, housing and environmental protection.
The hearing was stated to have been built around questions from submissions from nearly 20 nongovernmental groups, and conducted by independent experts working with the UN who make up the committee, which aims to help countries uphold their commitments under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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On Tibet, Committee members repeatedly questioned China on its monoethnic, monoracial policies enforced by China against Tibetans, Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians and noted that these policies were evidently counterproductive and in violation of international laws, said the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on its Tibet.net website Feb 17.
It said the Committee questioned China on wide-ranging topics related to Tibet, including persecution of Tibetan human rights defenders, forced resettlement of Tibetan nomads, appropriation and mass-evictions of Tibetans from their lands, lack of free and prior consent from Tibetans before construction of mega dams in Tibet, forced labour in Tibet, discrimination against Tibetans in labour markets, lack of freedom of religion in workplace, disparity in access to education for Tibetans, forced assimilation of nearly 1 million Tibetan children in Sino-centric boarding schools, denial of language rights to Tibetans, lack of rights for Tibetans to freely practice their religion including the flying of prayer flags and circumambulation (kora) of holy shrines, large-scale destruction of religious sites, measures to control Tibetan Buddhist practice of reincarnation and so forth.
The Tibet.net report said that despite specific and repeated questions from the UN Committee members asking for data and clarification, the Chinese delegation failed to provide satisfactory answers, either denying all charges or providing blanket self-praising statements.
Exasperated by the delegation’s unsatisfactory line of answering, one committee member remarked that if the Chinese delegation considered the well-substantiated allegations of violations as “baseless,” it should provide details of the investigation based on which this conclusion was arrived at, said the Tibet.net report.