By Tenzin Sangmo
Dharamshala, Nov 7: In the wake of the 3rd Cycle of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the People’s Republic of China held on November 6, it came as a disappointment to many civil groups after UN removed seven submissions from its final document meant for consideration of the member states.
The civil groups submitted the reports to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights - OHCHR online platform before the deadline of March 29, 2018.
Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy – TCHRD submitted its report titled Civil Society Submission on Tibet for China’s UN Universal Periodic Review.
Tsering Tsomo, director of TCHRD said, “It is the prerogative of the civil society to submit our reports as stakeholders.”
OHCHR released its Stakeholder Summary on September 3, 2018, including submissions from TCHRD, Demosistō, UNPO and SMHRIC and others.
It was then removed from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) website for several weeks citing technical issues.
It was reinstated on Oct 10, an updated report that removed citations from TCHRD and Demosistō’s submission and three other joint statements that are related to Tibet.
When asked to justify the change, OHCHR officials wrote: “As a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly, the HRC and the UPR Working Group (UPR WG), must adhere to the official United Nations position and terminology as reflected in relevant General Assembly resolutions and within the context of the UN Charter, and therefore, must respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the State concerned.”
However, on November 2, few days before the UPR, they released a corrigendum that includes the removed citations of the two groups and the joint submissions.
Tsomo said it was too little, too late for the member states would have drafted the recommendations at least a week before the UPR. Representatives may also have taken the corrigendum as an appendage and hence overlook it, she lamented.
An individual submission from Demosistō as well as a joint submission focusing on Tibet remained omitted from of all OHCHR documentation for the review.
“There is clearly political pressure from Beijing,” Joshua Wong, the general secretary of Demosisto told reporters on Tuesday. “This is political censorship.”
On Nov 5, the civil groups issued a joint press statement:
China UPR signed by ten groups including TCHRD.
OHCHR, when asked to justify the removal, replied that the UPR process cannot be politicized. Tsomo stated, “OHCHR should blame China for politicizing UPR, not us. We were basically blacklisted and censored."
Tsomo further observed, “The correlation is obviously at play here, as China grows bigger, the space for civil society advocacy is shrinking. We will continue to raise our voice.”
Anticipating such hurdles, TCHRD had managed to submit the original report to various embassies in Delhi well in advance.
A one-day public event, a parallel event was organized by the DIIR of CTA with Tibetan bureau in Geneva that invited many others to mobilize support for Tibet.