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Where is human rights in Tibet?

Loudon Aukatsang, currently serving her second term as an elected member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. Photo: File
We celebrate December 10 as the Human Rights Day to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

This was a ground-breaking achievement because it was the first time in history that all Member States of the United Nations pledged to work together to promote the thirty Articles of human rights that was enshrined in the document.This year’s human rights day slogan Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today reaffirms common humanity and universality of humane values. It convinces us that whoever, whatever, whenever and wherever we are, we can make a difference. Each of us has the potential to make a difference in our own unique ways using a medium that comes easiest to us.The Declaration reminds each one of us to stand up against human rights violations wherever it occurs- in a remote country, in our region, country or even at home.This day has an added significance for Tibetans. We fondly remember the day as the Nobel Peace Prize Day as it was on this day in 1989 that HH the Dalai Lama was conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize. With this award, the international community not only recognised the commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to non-violence and peace but also applauded his middle way approach and his efforts at resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue with China.United Nations did recognise the right to self determination of the Tibetans and called for respect of basic human rights of Tibetans in the aftermath of Tibetan National Uprising and the coming into exile in India of HH the Dalai Lama in 1959. In fact there were two other UN General Assembly resolutions in 1961 and 1965 condemning continued human rights violations of Tibetans. Since then, the corridors of UN General Assembly has been silent on Tibet except for rare references made during the Human Rights Council Sessions.The international community has made out the issue of Tibet to be an issue of human rights. But for Tibetans, it is more critical than human rights violations. The issue of Tibet is about ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide. In fact, the report of ICJ which formed the basis for the UN resolutions on Tibet affirms it as early as 1959 and mentions that “acts of genocide had been committed”, and that “Tibet was at the very least a de facto independent State” before its annexation by the Chinese government in 1951.The Tibet crisis has continued unabated since the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Chinese state machinery clamps down on Tibetan religion, culture and language which forms the bedrock of Tibetan identity. Tibetans are arrested and imprisoned for celebrating religious festivals such as Saka Dawa or HH the Dalai Lama’s birthday.Of the many ongoing campaigns enforced in Tibet by the Chinese regime, the most pervasive is “Patriotic education” aimed at strengthening ties between the public and the Communist Party and denouncing the Dalai Lama and “splittist forces”. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Work Teams are formed under this campaign to cover every sections of society including farmers, schools, monastic institutions and general populace.Under the guise of this campaign, Chinese authorities interfere in the daily lives and religious practices of Tibetans. Influential Tibetans in various stratas of the society particularly those with following are targeted and arrested under false allegations. Ceilings are imposed on number of monks and nuns in the monasteries and nunneries.Recent news of demolition of Larung Gar Institute, one of the largest centres of Buddhist learning in Serthar County in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province is the most current evidence of religious repression in Tibet. Demolitions are being carried out in line with the order given by the Chinese authorities to cut the number of residents by half to 5000. Central Tibetan Administration has urged UNHRC and the international community to save Larung Gar (here).With no freedom to express your identity and the shrinking space for dissent under the Chinese rule, Tibetans have resorted to self immolations- the most extreme form of protest against Chinese repression. The most recent case of self immolation of an unidentified person was reported on December 8 at 5 pm local time in Machu county, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. This has taken the reported cases of self immolations to 145.The world can no longer afford to remain a silent spectator- it needs to stand up for the rights of Tibetans in Tibet and urge China to have a dialogue with the representatives of HH the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue of Tibet.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.


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