By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 13: A coalition of 115 groups across the world has urged member states to vote out China from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it catalogued evidence for China’s “systematic efforts to undermine freedoms” in Tibet, East Turkistan, Hong Kong and Southern Mongolia ahead of the election on Tuesday. The groups called on the opportunity to deny a seat to the Chinese government for the next three years.
Tenzin Jigdal from the International Tibet Network said, “Given the overwhelming evidence of China’s repeated failure to abide by UN principles, anything short of a No Vote on 13 October constitutes an intentional disregard by World leaders of China’s serious human rights abuses and will send a message of approval of Beijing’s illegitimate activities.”
The letter addressed to the member states of the UN General Assembly charted out the response of China towards human rights defenders in the past decade including the death of the prominent Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who was imprisoned and incarcerated for life on political motivated charges.
It also mentioned that the UN expert who last visited Tibet was the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2005. There are at least 19 outstanding visit requests to China by Special Procedures while the last UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Tibet was Mary Robinson in 1998. It also cited reports from Reuters and Jamestown Foundation that revealed over half a million Tibetans have been coerced into militarised labour facilities in 2020.
UN General Assembly’s elections have to assess the candidate state’s contribution to the protection of human rights to be a member. Since the announcement of UN elections, China is one of four states that have yet to submit their voluntary pledges in support of its candidacy. Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Malawi are also standing for elections but have failed to submit pledges to prove that fulfil the UN protocols. Other governments including UK submitted their voluntary pledges over six months ago.
British parliamentarian Lisa Nandy has also urged the government to oppose China’s election to the UN council, “Labour is calling on the government to oppose China’s election to the UN human rights council … until such time as access is granted – and make clear to the world the reasons for doing so . . . In the current circumstances, China cannot be regarded as meeting the required standards.” She further called on the government to undertake sanctions under the Magnitsky legislation on Chinese officials responsible for oppressive policies in the Uyghur detention camps in east Turkestan.