Kalon Dicki Chhoyang addressing the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on February 19, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, February 20: A senior leader of the exile Tibetan administration has said the self-immolations by the new generation of Tibetans born under Chinese rule “are sending an unequivocal message to the world about the gravity of the situation in Tibet.”
Kalon Dicki Chhoyang, minister of the Department of Information and International Relations of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration was addressing the 5th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on February 19.
Her remarks came on the same day when two Tibetan teenagers, Rinchen, 17 and Sonam Dhargey, 18, died in their self-immolation protests in Ngaba region of eastern Tibet. 104 known Tibetans living under China’s rule have self-immolated since 2009 calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.
“What we hear are numbers but behind each number there are really people like you and me,” Kalon Chhoyang said.
She read a short message left behind by Nangdrol, 18, who self-immolated exactly a year earlier on February 19 2012. He had written: “We are unable to remain under these draconian laws, unable to tolerate this torment that does not leave scar, because the pain of not enjoying any basic human rights is far greater than the pain of self-immolation.”
The senior Tibetan leader noted that the reasons for the self-immolations in Tibet were China’s political repression, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation.
She called on China to “promptly address the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas and also to provide access to independent monitors and media to assess the actual conditions in the Tibetan region.”
Addressing the Summit held on the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council's main annual session, Kalon Chhoyang further called on China to honour it pledges to uphold the highest standard of cooperation with UN Human Rights Council and its mechanism.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, in a strong-worded statement on the crisis in Tibet last November, announced that there were 12 outstanding requests for official visits to China by UN Special Rapporteurs on various human rights issues, including one by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of religion and belief.
“China must be held accountable to the pledges it made to the UN Human Rights Council,” added Kalon Chhoyang.
Sponsored by a coalition of 20 human rights NGOs from around the world, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy pulled in “hundreds of courageous dissidents and human rights victims, activists, and student leaders, in an adjacent parallel forum, to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention.”
Kalon Dicki Chhoyang spoke on the topic ‘Authoritarianism and Human Rights: The Police State and Its Victims’ along with former Cuban political prisoner Régis Iglesias and Syrian activist Randa Kassis.