DHARAMSALA November 13 – Despite protests and lobbying by independent right groups and Tibet activists China has made it to the 47 – seat United Nations Human Rights Council, much to the dismay of Tibetans and supporters who have been campaigning against China’s re-entry to the UN body.
The exile Tibetan government (officially known as the Central Tibetan Administration) has urged UN member States to "hold China accountable for its ongoing human rights abuses and prior commitments." It called for the highest level of China’s human rights performance now that it has become a UNHRC member.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a group that monitors human rights situation in Tibet, said the result of Tuesday's voting has made them more determined to protect and promote human rights in Tibet. "By electing China to the HRC, we hope the UN member states seek to engage China and make its government more accountable to long-standing human rights issues in Tibet. China’s membership to the HRC should be linked to its serious commitment to uphold and protect human rights, and in case it fails to do so, it should eventually be expelled from the Council,” said Tsering Tsomo, executive director of TCHRD.
Activists here at the exile headquarters of the Tibetan government said China’s reelection to the council despite its poor human rights record is a mockery of the world body meant to protect human rights around the world.
“We are disappointed but not surprised at the decision. It is clear that member nations have turned a blind eye while the Chinese government continues to violate all aspects of International Human Rights laws. Now that China is a member of this body, we hope the United Nations and the Human Rights Council will really hold China accountable for their actions and that China is serious about improving human rights conditions in Tibet,” said Tenzing Jigme, President of Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro independence group in exile.
“Tibetans in Tibet continue to self immolate and protest against China's brutal policies and illegal occupation. The United Nations has a responsibility to ensure that Tibetans rights and freedom are respected, ” added Jigme.
China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba and Algeria won seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council, angering independent human rights groups who said their election undermined the rights watchdog's credibility.
“China will only be moved on Tibet when world governments clearly speak up in unison. We will now take the voices of a million people to our capitals, and demand that they ensure China doesn’t turn the Human Rights Council into a puppet show for violators,” said Tenzin Dolkar, Interim Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.
“Our governments must spare no effort by following through with the recommendations made on Tibet during China’s recent Universal Periodic Review.”
Britain, France, the Maldives, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa were also elected to three-year terms.
Independent rights groups and Tibetan activists say that China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria have refused to let U.N. investigators visit to evaluate human rights situations in these countries. China, Russia and Algeria have refused to allow U.N. experts visit more than 10 times since 2000, they said.
Across the street from the main gate of U.N. headquarters, pro-Tibet activists hung a huge banner saying "China Fails Human Rights."
The International Tibet Network, a non governmental body connecting various Tibet support groups, denounced China’s inclusion into the council as embarrassment to the UN.
“The fact that more than one million people stood against China's re-election in the Human Rights Council is a hope for us. Even though the governments have not taken a favorable stand, the masses have spoken up. This is the beginning of the end of China's brutal occupation of Tibet,” said Lobsang Tseten, Asia Regional Coordinator of International Tibet Network.
China’s reentry into the UN body comes at a time when a 20 year old Tibetan monk named Tsering Gyal had just become the 123rd Tibetan to immolate self in Tibet’s Pema County on Monday in protest against China's repressive policies.