Students of TCV School, Gopalpur perform a play on the current situation inside Tibet during the four-day Tibetan People's Solidarity Campaign in New Delhi from Jan 30-Feb 2, 2013. (Phayul photo)
DHARAMSHALA, February 4: A global right group has censured China over its human rights record noting that the world’s most populous country made “minimal progress on political, civil, socio-economic or cultural rights” in 2012.
New York based Human Rights Watch, in its World Report 2013 released last week said China's human rights record “remained poor” throughout last year.
"China is the only country holding a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, in prison today - and unfortunately that's a fair reflection of the state of freedom in the country," said Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.
"When challenged by its citizens, repression or tactical retreat rather than systemic reform remains the Chinese government's default response.
In a year when Tibet witnessed 83 self-immolation protests against Chinese rule, HRW said the situation in the Tibetan areas “remained tense following the massive crackdown on popular protests that swept the plateau in 2008.”
“The government has yet to indicate that it will accommodate the aspirations of Tibetan people for greater autonomy, even within the narrow confines of the country's autonomy law on ethnic minorities' areas,” the group said in its 665-page report.
While noting that “torture and forced confessions remained endemic in the criminal justice system” HRW said Chinese authorities reacted to the self-immolations by introducing “even more hard-line measures such as collective punishment for relatives and neighbours of self-immolators.”
The global rights group said Tibetans suspected of being critical of political, religious, cultural, or economic state policies are systematically targeted on charges of “separatism.”
“Chinese security forces maintain a heavy presence and the authorities continue to tightly restrict access and travel to Tibetan areas, particularly for journalists and foreign visitors.”
As part of its drive to build “a New Socialist Countryside” in Tibet, HRW blames the Chinese government for continueing to implement “large development programs mandating rehousing or relocating up to 80 percent of the rural population.”
“The relocation policies have been carried out—contrary to Chinese government claims—with no effective choice and without genuine consultation of those affected, while compensation mechanisms are opaque and inadequate,” HRW said. “Pastoralists deprived of their traditional livelihood face declining living standards and increased dependency on government subsidies.”
Expressing concern over the fate of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, the report said the Nepali government, under “increasing pressure from China” continued to deny Tibetans safe passage to India and also obstructed peaceful gatherings by Tibetans.
Chinese citizens' fundamental right to political participation was denied in the selection of their new top leaders, the seven members of the new Standing Committee of the politburo led by Xi Jinping, it said.
HRW added that the new leadership is “yet to signal that it is willing to respond to growing popular demands for greater adherence to the rule of law, accountability, and government openness.”
“Activists, government critics and ordinary citizens were subjected to a host of repressive measures, including police monitoring and harassment; baseless house arrest of individuals; arbitrary detentions; unwarranted and forcible commitment to psychiatric facilities; or imprisonment on politicized criminal charges for activities protected by human rights,” the group siad.
According to the report, China still executes more prisoners than the rest of the world combined, further increased Internet censorship in December by imposing real name registration and blocking software used to circumvent the country's "Great Firewall," and pointed out that over 90% of organ transplants from deceased donors come from executed prisoners.