By Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent
Tenzin Samphel Katya making the statment (Photo: Human Rights in China)
United Nations, Geneva, September 21 - This afternoon as the United Nations Human Rights Council had the interactive dialogues with its human rights experts on freedom of religion and freedom of opinion and expression, three NGOs expressed concern about China's current defamation campaign against the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
The statement by Society for Threatened Peoples, Movement Against Racism and Friendship Among All Peoples and International Fellowship of Reconciliation said: "We wish to alert the Special Rapporteur (on Freedom of Religion or Belief) about the current widespread intensification of a "patriotic re-education" campaign in Tibetan areas of present-day China which forces the Tibetans to denounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The defamation of the Dalai Lama has gone to such an extent that Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party Chief of the "Tibet Autonomous Region" recently said that the Dalai Lama was a "false religious leader."
The statement delivered by Tenzin Katya went on to state that: "In view of these ongoing serious abuses of religious freedom in China, particularly in Tibetan areas and Xinjiang, we wish to ask: Is the Special Rapporteur discussing a follow-up visit to your predecessor's mission to the Peoples Republic of China in 1994?" Ms. Asma Jahangir from Pakistan is the present Special Rapporteur.
Mr. Abdelfattah Amor from Tunisia who was the former Special Rapporteur on the issue of religious freedom, visited Lhasa in November 1994 and made the following observations: The Special Rapporteur "noted the extremely devout attitude perceptible in Tibet, the full scale and extent of which has not, perhaps, been sufficiently appreciated so far. This factor must be taken into account when analysing the religious situation in Tibet. Moreover, the question of Tibet would be less acute if it did not have an added dimension, in other words if it turned solely on religious aspects...The Special Rapporteur considers that deep religiousness may be the source not only of great spirituality, but also of real difficulties. The latter should be dealt with through dialogue, tolerance and education. Any repression of religion can lead to greater religiousness, or even, in some cases, a form of extremism, despite the apparently non-violent nature of Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism in particular, the values of which might be severely tried by changes to the demographic data of Tibet. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the balances and compromises required by social dynamics be reached, so as to avoid the deeply religious being tempted by religious extremism."
The NGO statement this afternoon thanked the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for her communication on the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama and also for expressing "concern about the grave interference with the freedom of belief of the Tibetan Buddhists who have the right to choose their clergy in accordance with their own rites and who have been deprived of their religious leader."China's Diplomatic Show
On another note, this morning the Chinese delegation blocked the Human Rights Council proceedings by raising a procedural matter. "China's demanded six minutes to speak but wasted almost an hour the Council valuable time," said one participant who observed the meeting. The Chinese delegation was demanding six minutes time to make a "right to reply" during the concluding stages of an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and the judiciary. However, there was a time restriction of three minutes for such a response.
Despite appeals of the President of the Council, the Chinese delegation refused to budge on their position and then called for the suspension of the meeting for "consultation". The meeting resumed 10 minutes later for China to make one "comment" and one "right of reply" with the Chinese delegation only using about 4 and half minutes of the initial demand of six minutes. The Cuban delegation vigorously supported China's procedural move with other delegates taking no interest to join the discussion on the matter.
The Chinese "comment" and "reply" were in response to the presentation of the 2005 Mission Report to China by Mr. Mandfred Nowak (Austria) and to a statement made by the NGO International Interfaith which referred to allegations of China harvesting organs of Falun Gong practitioners.
So this was the "China's Diplomatic Show" at the world's highest human rights forum. The Human Rights Council was in a tense mood this morning. "We don't understand why governments like China, despite their stated commitments to the Council choose to block important human rights discussions," said another observer of the debate this morning.