(TibetanReview.net, May20’20) – Accusing China of criminalizing the legitimate work of a minority community member and human rights defender, major UN bodies of human rights experts have on May 19 called for the dropping of charges and release of a Tibetan activist in Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) Prefecture of Qinghai Province. The activist, A-nya Sengdra, is serving a seven-year jail sentence.
The 48-yer-old civil society leader was tried and jailed on Dec 6, 2019 after he made online complaints about official corruption, illegal mining, and poaching of nationally protected wildlife.
“We are deeply concerned by what appears to be the criminalization of the legitimate work of a minority community member and human rights defender,” said a statement issued jointly by five special rapporteurs and members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The UN experts, including that on Minority Issues, have also expressed concern over reports about deterioration in Mr Sengdra’s physical and mental integrity due to poor detention conditions.
Calling the charges against Mr Sengdra part of a wider crackdown on Tibetan minority rights defenders, the experts have said, “We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including by lifting the charges against Mr Sengdra. The human rights of the Tibetan minority must be fully respected.”
The experts have been named as Mr Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Mr David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Ms Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders; and Mr Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention members are Ms Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Mr Sètondji Roland Adjovi and Mr Seong-Phil Hong.
Amid protests, China recently won a seat on the committee that selects UN rights special rapporteurs and committee members.