Ngawang Choephel Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent
GENEVA, MARCH 11 - As the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is scheduled to adopt its Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on China this week, documents show Beijing soliciting the support from a government-sponsored NGOs (popularly known as GONGOs to the wider NGO community), including one called the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation.
This organisation in NGO Consultative Status with the United Nations in a written statement submitted to the Council claims: "Regarding religious freedom, China has made efforts to realize its commitment to protect religious freedom by adopting policies on freedom of religious belief, building active and healthy religious relationships, and maintaining religious and social harmony. China has integrated religious work into the national governance system and improved the management of religious work under the rule of law."
The statement then says that in Tibet and East Turkestan: "There are 1,787 religious sites in The Tibet Autonomous Region, with over 46,000 monks and nuns and 358 living Buddhas. The tradition of living Buddha incarnation has been fully respected. The Chinese Government respects the religious belief and customs of Muslims, makes arrangements for 15,000 Muslims to make pilgrimage to Mecca. In Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, there are over 24,000 mosques, with over 29,000 imams." These are official figures regularly propagated by China and its own GONGOs in their statements.
In this venture, China created its own GONGOs, starting with China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) just before the UN World Conference on Human Rights held in 1993 in Vienna, Austria. In recent years, it got another, called the Chinese Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC) based in Beijing, the UN status and uses the organisation to wear the mask of a NGO to repeat China's claims on Tibet.
CSHRS in its written statement to the Council recalls that in November 2018, China appeared before the UPR mechanism where "more than 120 countries fully recognised China's tremendous achievements in fulfilling its international human rights obligations and protecting and promoting human rights".
However, CSHRS in another submission to the UPR process, "summary of stakeholders' submissions on China," expresses "concern about the insufficiency of human rights knowledge and suggested that college degree in law should take human rights law as one of the required courses, and called for the implementation of this action widely in universities."
According to the Council data, 150 States took place in the interactive dialogue with the Chinese delegation during the UPR Working Group Meeting on 9 November 2018 while 34 States submitted advance written questions.
Two other GONGOs, Cuban United Nations Association and Union Nacional de Juristas de Cuba also submitted written statements to lend their support to China's UPR appearance.
The Vietnamese GONGO statement under the heading: "The Implementation of Human Rights in China" applauded China "for recently providing Chinese solutions to global human rights governance. China is actively engaged in global governance of human rights, making proposals at the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council and on other occasions to promote the establishment of an international human rights system that is fair, just, reasonable and effective."
The websites of the CSHRS, CAPPTC and the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation all show the same formal presentations used by Communist regimes to showcase their so-called NGO communities.
According to its « Programme of Work », the Human Rights Council will deal with the UPR Outcomes on 14 March, including that of the People's Republic of China.
Council documents also show that China has already indicated which of the UPR recommendations it was not able to accept with regard to Tibet. With regard to New Zealand’s recommendation to « resume the two-day dialogue on Tibet », the response was: « Accepted and already implemented. »
In 2009, a similar recommendation from New Zealand, after the second-cycle of China’s UPR, was not accepted although China hosted the last round of Sino-Tibetan dialogue which actually took place in February 2010.
According a draft list of speakers posted on the Council’s « extranet », 44 organisations have signed up to speak during the adoption of the UPR report. Six Chinese GONGOs, including the Chinese Association for the Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC), are among the first 10 speakers. In the URP mechanism of the Council, this is the only opportunity for NGOs to actually make oral statements.
If this situation stands, 12 of the 20 minutes time expected to be allotted to NGOs will be occupied by the Chinese GONGOs, including the CAPDTC, listed as the eighth speaker.
In September 2017, Human Rights Watch released a critical report about China's interference in United Nations Rights Mechanisms asserting that Chinese officials have harassed activists, primarily those from China, by photographing and filming them on UN premises in violation of UN rules and restricting their travel to Geneva.
"China used its membership on the Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) NGO Committee to block NGOs critical of China from being granted UN accreditation, and it has sought to blacklist accredited activists to bar their attendance. Behind the scenes, Chinese diplomats, in violation of UN rules, have contacted UN staff and experts on treaty bodies and special procedures (independent experts focusing on specific human rights issues), including behavior that at times has amounted to harassment and intimidation," Human Rights Watch said.