By Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent
United Nations, Geneva, November 30 - As the UN Human Rights Council began its third session yesterday here, 16 NGOs in a joint statement questioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the steps taken concerning the 30 September killings of Tibetans on the Nangpa Pass. A Chinese delegate made a statement which contradicted China’s earlier statement on the Nangpa Pass incident.
Gianfranco Fattorini (Photo by Tibet Bureau, Geneva)
The NGO statement delivered by Mr. Gianfranco Fattorini (Movement Against Racism and Friendship Among All Peoples) said: “With respect to the work of the High Commissioner’s Office in Kathmandu (Nepal), this Joint NGO Statement relates to the 30 September shooting on more than 70 Tibetans on the Nangpa Pass at 18,753 ft in the Himalayas while they were trying to cross the Pass to reach Nepal…. In view of the many appeals to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene publicly in the case of the 30 September killings of Tibetans in the Himalayas, we wish to know of the steps taken by the High Commissioner, including her Office in Kathmandu, regarding this grave matter.”
The NGOs statement was made in reaction to the oral update report from Ms. Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner on Human Rights, to the Human Rights Council, in which she addressed the situation in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Darfur. However, the High Commissioner did not respond to question posed on the Nangpa Pass killings.
As expected a representative of China reacted to Joint NGO statement. The UN note on “Meeting Coverage” bulletin quoted the Chinese response made by Ms. Li Nana as stating “...this afternoon a non-governmental organization (NGO) said that China had allegedly shot Tibetans in the Himalayas. China had decided not to make use of its right of point of order. Nevertheless, this NGO's statement was not appropriate, and China expressed disappointment at the violation of proper procedures.” Without elaborating Ms. Li ended the statement saying that China was carrying out its investigation.
This was the second time that the Nangpa Pass killings has been raised in UN meetings related to human rights. On 30 October, the case was raised in the Third Committee of the current UN General Assembly when Canada’s Ambassador Henri-Paul Normandin in a statement said: “
We note China’s recognition of the importance of the rule of law, and its efforts to address social and economic inequalities associated with rapid economic development. However, we have concerns with respect to continuing violations of civil and political rights – including freedom of expression, association and spiritual belief, due process of law, arbitrary detention and incidence of torture. The apparent crackdown on many prominent human rights defenders is worrisome. In addition, the shooting of unarmed Tibetans attempting to cross the China-Nepal border reinforces preoccupations relating to the treatment of ethnic minorities. China’s lack of adherence to international standards of free and informed consent in the context of organ transplants is also of concern.”
The NGO Statement concerning the Nangpa Pass killings to the Councilyesterday afternoon was co-signed by the following organizations: Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP), Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Society for Threatened Peoples, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Interfaith International, Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT), Pax Romana, International Educational Development, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and other Minorities, France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Habitat International Coalition, Saami Council, Fédération internationale des mouvements d’adultes ruraux, catholiques (FIMARC), Rights and Democracy and Transnational Radical Party.
Two other organizations, Nonvoilence International and Norwegian Helsinki Committee also supported this statement. Full Text of the NGO Statement:General AssemblyHuman Rights CouncilThird sessionItem 2: Implementation of General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 entitled “Human Rights Council”
(c) Update by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human RightsJoint NGO Statement by:
- Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)
- Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network
- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- Society for Threatened Peoples
- International Fellowship of Reconciliation
- Interfaith International
- Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT)
- Pax Romana
- International Educational Development
- International Federation for the Protection of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and other Minorities
- France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterand
- Habitat International Coalition
- Saami Council
- Fédération internationale des mouvements d’adultes ruraux catholiques (FIMARC)
- Rights and Democracy – Droits et démocratie
- Transnational Radical Party
With respect to the work of the High Commissioner’s Office in Kathmandu (Nepal), this Joint NGO Statement relates to the 30 September shooting on more than 70 Tibetans on the Nangpa Pass at 18,753 ft in the Himalayas while they were trying to cross the Pass to reach Nepal.
The Chinese soldiers killed at least two Tibetans1
during their shooting spree, while the Chinese authorities arrested more than 30 from the group, including children2
. Fortunately, 41 Tibetans from this group managed to escape the shooting and have now reportedly settled in India3
Although such incidents have occurred in the past, this time the killing of Tibetans and attempts to kill other Tibetans from the group was witnessed by many foreign mountain climbers at the Pass, including a Romanian4
who filmed the shooting. The video footage was later widely shown on TV stations around the world. During the shooting, a mountaineer in the cameraman’s group can be heard saying: "They are shooting them like dogs."5
Mr. President, Madame High Commissioner,
The Chinese authorities confirmed that the shootings took place but added that its soldiers were “forced to defend themselves”6
. Despite repeated appeals, China refuses to release any information about the fate and whereabouts of those Tibetans who were arrested at the Pass.
The European Parliament7
has strongly condemned the killings of the Tibetans while many governments have raised their concern in bilateral talks with the People’s Republic of China.
We fully support the call by Human Rights Watch that two Special Procedures of the Council be allowed to conduct an independent investigation on the Nangpa Pass shooting.8
In view of the many appeals to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene publicly in the case of the 30 September killings of Tibetans in the Himalayas, we wish to know of the steps taken by the High Commissioner, including her Office in Kathmandu, regarding this grave matter.
29 November 2006 1
A Tibetan Nun, Kalsang Namtso aged 17, was one of the victims identified so far. Filipino climbing Doctor Ted Esguerra said he saw at least three people - two women and a man - shot dead. The first witness account posted on www.mounteverest.net
on 2 October said: “Watching the line snake off through the snow, as the shots rang out, we saw two shapes fall. The binoculars confirmed it: 2 people were down, and they weren’t getting up. Then more Chinese army swarmed through the Advance Base Camp.”2
Some of the children has been identified as: Tenwang, age 7; Lhakpa Tsering, age 8; Dhondup Lhamo, age 9; Dechen Dolma, age 10; Wangchen, age 11; Tsedon, age 12; Sonam Wangdue, age 12; Ming Shomo, age 13; Lodoe Nyima, age 15; Jamyang Tsetan, age 16; Karma Tsetan, age 16 and Lodoe Namkha, age 16. Steve Lawes, a British police officer who witnessed the shooting told the International Campaign for Tibet how the children were arrested: "The children were in single file, about six feet away from me. They didn't see us - they weren't looking around the way kids normally would, they were too frightened. By that time, advance base camp was crawling with soldiers. We were doing our best not to do anything that might spark off more violence." 3
One of the survivors told Radio Free Asia: “I think the Chinese fired for about 15 minutes. I felt bullets whizzing past my ears. In fact I felt about five bullets pass by me and luckily they missed me. I was so frightened that I crawled in the snow using my hands and feet. The snow was about knee-deep,” he said.4
Interview with Sergiu Matei: click here5 http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=14264&t=16
Xinhua News Agency, 12 October and People’s Daily, 13 October.7
On 26 October, the Parliament adopted a resolution on Tibet that "condemns the excessive use of force by the Chinese People’s Armed Police in firing upon unarmed Tibetan civilians, including children" and "strongly condemns the killing of an unarmed civilian who, being under 18 years of age, was also considered a child under international law" and "expresses its dismay at the imprisonment of Tibetan civilians, nine of whom are children". 8
Human Rights Watch urged that “the Chinese government to allow the United Nations special rapporteurs on the human rights of migrants and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to investigate the shooting. All those who have been detained simply because they attempted to cross an international border should be released. The Chinese government should also publicly clarify the standing rules of engagement for soldiers on the border, and whether those who fired on these unarmed civilians and the officers who ordered them to do so will be prosecuted”. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/10/26/china14460.htm