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Six UN rights experts have made public their communication to China on a panoply of serious violations in Tibet

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(TibetanReview.net, Apr12’23) – Six UN experts have made public on Apr 11 a joint communication they had made to the Chinese government on Feb 6, expressing deep concerns over a range of serious violations of human rights in Tibet, including its extensive labour exploitations there. The confidentiality was maintained thus far as per the established procedure concerning communications to state parties to enable the latter to respond to the allegations made by victims or reported by witnesses and others.

The Central Tibetan Administration, which reported on the communication on its Tibet.net website Apr 11, did not say what the Chinese responses were, if any, to the experts who report to the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva. But the fact that the experts have made their communication public show that the Chinese response has been far from satisfactory, if not altogether absent.

The communication shows that the six experts had asked China to “clarify” the situation of Tibetans alleged to have been subjected to extensive labour exploitation which may amount to forced labour and trafficking for purpose of forced labour; marginalization of the Tibetan language, religion, and way of life; forced political indoctrination of prisoners; and violations of freedoms of thought, conscience, opinion, and expression.

The experts have also expressed “acute concern” over the conditions under which the re-education of Tibetans takes place in Tibet.

In specific terms, the experts have stressed on the “extensive labour transfer programme in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, placing rural workers into low-skilled and low-paid industrial jobs, allegedly eroding Tibetan minority languages, cultural practices, and religion”.

The communication notes that the Chinese government has itself had admitted that “from 2015 to 2020, over 2.8 million farmers and herdsmen in Tibet were ‘transferred’ from the agricultural sector to the manufacturing and services sectors in urban areas, including over 600,000 transfers in 2020 alone.”

Given these reports and allegations, the experts have urged China to provide information about, among other things, its labour transfer programme, such as the number and locations of existing forced labour transfer facilities in Tibet, disaggregated statistics on the number of ethnic Tibetans transferred through the labour transfer programmes, and the businesses based in Tibet Autonomous Region employing them.

The experts have also asked China to provide information on the use and teaching of Tibetan language, including restrictions placed on the use of Tibetan language, and the “benefits” to Tibetans who are transferred to low-paid, low skilled jobs such as the construction and textile manufacturing sectors.

The experts have also asked China for information on its use of the highly intrusive grid-management control system for maintaining social stability in Tibet.

The experts have been named as Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; KP Ashwini, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

Earlier, on Nov 11, 2022, four Special Rapporteurs wrote a joint communication to China’s foreign minister, expressing “serious concern” over reports which appeared to reveal “a policy of acculturation and assimilation of the Tibetan culture into the dominant Han Chinese majority” with the establishment of special boarding schools for around one million Tibetan children who were kept away from their parents and culture, to be groomed as citizens loyal to the Communist Party of China and the Chinese state controlled by it.

And the Special Rapporteurs made their communication public in January after China failed to respond to it within the stipulated 60-day period.

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