(TibetanReview.net, Mar05, 2017) – China severely curtailed human rights of the Tibetan people during 2016 “under the professed objectives of controlling border areas, maintaining social stability, combating separatism, and extracting natural resources,” said the US State Department in its latest human rights report which was released on Mar 3. The report said China engaged in “severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of the Tibetan population.”
The report also said China “routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the ‘Dalai [Lama] clique’ and ‘other outside forces’ for instigating instability.”
The report also said China “strictly controlled information about, and access to, the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) and some key Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine fully the scope of human rights problems.”
On the issue of media access to Tibet, the report said, “The Chinese government severely restricted free travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas. In addition, the Chinese government harassed or detained Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to provide information to persons abroad, or communicated information regarding protests or other expressions of discontent through cell phones, e-mail, or the internet. The few visits to the TAR by diplomats and journalists that were allowed were tightly controlled by local authorities. Because of these restrictions, many of the incidents and cases mentioned in this report could not be verified independently.”
The report also referred to the socio-economic marginalization of the Tibetan people in their own homeland, saying, “Economic and social exclusion was a major source of discontent among a varied cross section of Tibetans. Some Tibetans continued to report discrimination in employment. Some Tibetans reported it was more difficult for Tibetans than ethnic Chinese to obtain permits and loans to open businesses. Restrictions on both local NGOs that received foreign funding and international NGOs that provided assistance to Tibetan communities increased during the year, resulting in a decrease of beneficial NGO programs in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”
The report criticized China’s recent severe tightening of restrictions on the Tibetan people’s freedom of movement, saying, “Many Tibetans continued to report difficulties in obtaining new or renewing existing passports. Sources reported that Tibetans and other minorities had to provide far more extensive documentation than other Chinese citizens when applying for a Chinese passport. In the TAR, a scholar needs to get about seven stamps with signatures from various government offices to apply for a passport, in addition to other standard required documentation. For Tibetans, the passport application process could take years and frequently ended in rejection. Some Tibetans reported they were able to obtain passports only after paying substantial bribes. Tibetans continued to encounter substantial difficulties and obstacles in traveling to India for religious, educational, and other purposes. Individuals also reported instances of local authorities revoking their passports after they had returned to China.”
Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson has said in his preface to the report: “Our values are our interests when it comes to human rights. The production of these reports underscores our commitment to freedom, democracy, and the human rights guaranteed to all individuals around the world.”
The report was the work of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and is titled as Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016.