UN experts ask China to explain crackdown on anti mining protesters
Phayul[Saturday, February 16, 2019 14:02]
By Ngawang C. Drakmagyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent

Armed police at an anti mining protest in Dzatoe County, 2013 File image
Armed police at an anti mining protest in Dzatoe County, 2013 File image
GENEVA, 16 February: According to information available in document-A/HRC40/79 dated 12 February 2019 released before the upcoming 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, six UN human rights experts have requested answers from the Chinese authorities concerning "the excessive use of police force against Tibetan environmental human rights defenders in Qinghai Province."

In a joint-allegation letter (AL CHN 17/2018) addressed to the Chinese authorities dated 28 August 2018, these human rights mandates of the Council, state that Chinese police had allegedly resorted to excessive use of force to disperse a peaceful protest by approximately 100 Tibetan environmental human rights defenders, demonstrating against alleged environmentally-harmful mining activities in Kham Yushul, Yushul Tibetan Autonomous prefecture in Qinghai Province. "Police allegedly assaulted protesters and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several protesters were reportedly left unconscious, with at least one protester hospitalised as a result of injuries sustained from the beatings and tear gas...Approximately 60 local residents reported the excessive use of force by the police to the provincial authorities and appealed to them to intervene. However, the authorities allegedly did not respond,"they stated.

"Please inform us why the authorities allegedly failed to respond when local residents reported the police violence," the 7-page communication asked Beijing.

According the experts, the protest was organised in opposition to mining activities in the Tibetan plateau which allegedly lack the free, informed and prior consent of the local population and are harming the environment by polluting major rivers.

This intervention also stated that the authorities "allegedly neglected to accurately inform the local population about the mining activities by initially claiming that the digging was for the purpose of a road building initiative."

While seeking information on "any investigation into the violence and excessive use of force allegedly exercised by the police in order to disperse the protest," the experts expressed concerns that the actions of the police were a disproportionate and direct retaliation against the environmental rights defenders' legitimate exercise of their rights to peaceful assembly and association.

Recalling previous communications of 10 February 2017 and 16 February 2018 on Tashi Wangchuk (referred to as a Tibetan language defender), the experts acknowledged China's response of 27 March 2017 but regretted that it "failed to address how restrictions on Tibetans, such as Mr. Wangchuk, comply with international human rights norms."

This joint-communication also reminded the Chinese authorities on how the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in his global update of human rights concerns to the Human Rights Council on 18 June 2018 warned that in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the "human rights situation is reportedly fast deteriorating."

Referring to international human rights law, the experts said that the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which China has been a party since 27 March 2001, establishes in article 1 that "all peoples(...) may "freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development", and in article 12 the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council will meet from 25 February to 22 March 2019.