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Tibet inadequately covered in UK's annual human rights report PDF Print E-mail
[2 May 2012] On 30 April the UK government published its Human Rights Report for 2011. The report's section on Tibet focuses heavily on the self-immolations and the government's response, but fails to mention other ongoing issues in Tibet such as the lack of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, closed trials and torture. However, the report has taken on board suggestions made by Tibet Society and other NGOs for greater transparency.

Take Action  I  Background  I  Tibet section of report  I  Read report online


TAKE ACTION

FCO logoMinister of State Jeremy Browne, in a video address, has called for comments and feedback on the governments Human Rights Report for 2011. Please send your comments calling for the British government to take further action in support of Tibetans rights and freedoms.

1. Leave your comments on the Foreign Office Reports webpage.

2. Write to your MP and ask him/her to write to Minister of State Jeremy Browne with your concerns.
To find your MP's contact details go to findyourmp.parliament.uk or use the website www.writetothem.com to send a message to your MP. Please send copies of any replies you receive to Tibet Society - email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or post to Tibet Society, Unit 9, 139 Fonthill Road, London N4 3HF - as this helps us to monitor the government's actions as well as parliamentary support.

Points to raise:
Though the representations made in 2011 and first quarter of 2012 in respect to China's ongoing crackdown in Tibet are welcome, the British government can do more to support Tibetans in Tibet who are experiencing extreme oppression and human rights abuses. Specifically:

1. The Foreign Office must continue to make urgent representations to the Chinese government for British diplomats to be allowed access to regions in eastern Tibet where military crackdowns have recently taken place, including Jyekundo (Ch: Yushu), Kardze (Ch: Ganzi), Ngaba (Ch: Aba), Rebkong (Ch: Tongren), Serthar (Ch: Seda) and Tsolho (Ch: Hainan).

2. The Prime Minister must publicly call on the Chinese government to genuinely address the grievances of the Tibetan people, which have led to tens of thousands of Tibetans risking their lives by publicly demonstrating and at least 33 Tibetans taking the drastic action of self-immolation. The Prime Minister must further urge China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people, to end the military crackdown and, for openness and transparency, allow independent observers, humanitarian agencies and world media into Tibet.

3. In line with its public stance on human rights, the British government should take the lead in organising an International Government Forum to discuss the current situation in Tibet and formulate mechanisms whereby governments can multi-laterally persuade and influence China that it is in their best interest to resolve the Tibet issue.

Additionally, in its future reports and updates, the Foreign Office must draw attention to ALL human rights abuses affecting Tibetans in Tibet.
Issues relating to the self-immolations should, of course, continue to be addressed, but other human rights issues must not be ignored. For example, restrictions on religious practices, patriotic re-education, lack of freedom of expression, violent responses to peaceful protests, arbitrary arrests, closed trials and the lack of due legal processes, excessive prison sentences, torture, re-education through labour, restriction of movement and the forced repatriation of Tibetan refugees from Nepal.

Background


William HagueIn the foreword to Human Rights and Democracy: The 2011 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report, Foreign Secretary William Hague reiterates the governments pledge to keep human rights at the heart of UK foreign policy. He adds that the government is determined to pursue every opportunity to promote human rights and political and economic freedom around the world.

The report expands on previous annual reports by including sections on how human rights are incorporated into foreign policy and the mechanisms used by the government to promote human rights. This greater level of transparency was called for by Tibet Society and other NGOs at roundtable discussions held with Foreign Office officials.

FCO Human Rights ReportThe section on Tibet highlights the self-immolation cases in 2011 and the governments response. It also details China's ongoing economic investment in Tibet and its pursuit of [the] twin goals of development and social stability. However, only a cursory mention is given to the tensions in Tibet which are said to be aggravated by restrictive or exclusionary policies in the areas of religious practice, language and culture, and education. Other issues which the section fails to mention include the lack of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, closed trials and the lack of due legal processes, excessive prison sentences, torture and the forced repatriation of Tibetan refugees from Nepal.

An update for the first quarter of 2012 was published at the same time as the 2011 report. As well as referring to the recent self-immolations, the update confirms that British diplomats have lobbied China for access to Ngaba and information on the situation there. It also reveals a British diplomat attempted to visit Ngaba in February 2012 but was refused access by the Chinese authorities.

Tibet Society continues to call on the British government to take further action on Tibet, to support the Tibetan peoples just call for freedom from oppression and in particular to work together with other governments to construct a pragmatic multi-lateral approach to press China to resolve the situation.


Tibet section from Foreign Office Human Rights Report 2011

Tibet (p201-202)
The Chinese authorities continued to invest significant financial resources into Tibetan areas in 2011, in pursuit of their twin goals of development and social stability. But tensions in some regions have been high, with the grievances of local Tibetans aggravated by restrictive or exclusionary policies in the areas of religious practice, language and culture, and education. Development indicators for Tibetan areas remain the lowest in China, significantly below the national average. To address this, the Chinese authorities have stated that they will pursue leapfrog development in Tibetan areas, targeting an annual GDP growth of 13% (compared to a national target of 7.5%) under national and provincial five-year plans. The central government has approved investment in 255 infrastructure projects worth over RMB 600 billion over the next five years, and has promised to deliver growth by upgrading agriculture, developing indigenous products such as traditional medicine and promoting tourism. There is evidence that investment is reaching local communities. However, local Tibetans have reported that ethnic Han Chinese residents are often better placed to benefit from the resulting opportunities.

Restrictions on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism have remained a particular area of concern. On 16 March, a young monk at the Kirti Monastery, in a Tibetan area of Sichuan Province, immolated himself in a protest against policies enacted since 2009 to strengthen government control over normal religious practice. The resulting stand-off between police and monks was broken on 21 April, when police raided the monastery, reportedly removing 300 monks for Patriotic Re-education and beating to death two locals who tried to intervene. Since March there have been eleven subsequent self-immolations, six of them by monks connected to the Kirti Monastery. Two further monks and two nuns immolated themselves in Tibetan areas of Sichuan, and the eleventh immolation was by a monk from Chamdo County in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

On 29 November, the Foreign Secretary set out to Parliament his concerns regarding the self-immolations, and urged the Chinese government to work with local communities to resolve the grievances underlying these actions. On 15 November, Minister of State Jeremy Browne raised his concerns about the immolations with Chinese Vice-Minister Fu Ying. Lord Howell did the same during his meeting with the deputy party secretary for the Tibet Autonomous Region, Hao Peng, on 7 December, and requested access for diplomats and foreign journalists to the affected areas. Officials from the FCO have raised their concerns regarding these immolations repeatedly with the Chinese Embassy in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing throughout the reporting period, and have kept in frequent contact with the Foreign Affairs Office in Sichuan and local Public Security Bureau offices regarding access to these areas. Diplomats from the Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Chongqing have made regular visits to Tibetan areas. On 7 December, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham made a full statement about the Governments human rights concerns in Tibet, in response to a Westminster Hall debate. There was no progress reported in 2011 in negotiations between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama.

From the quarterly update on China: Jan-Mar 2012
On 23 and 24 January Chinese security forces fired on protestors in Luhuo County and Seda County, Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province. At least one person was killed and several injured. On 25 January Minister of State Jeremy Browne released a statement urging the Chinese government to exercise restraint and release full details of the incidents, and calling for both sides to work together to resolve the underlying grievances. A third reported incident involving the use of lethal force by Chinese security forces in Rangtang County, Sichuan, on 26 January has not been confirmed by the Chinese government.

Since 1 January there have been nine confirmed self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China. On 6 January former monks Tennyi and Tsultrim self-immolated and died in Sichuan. On 8 January monk Sonam Wangyal self-immolated and died in Qinghai. On 14 January former monk Lobsang Jamyang self-immolated and died in Sichuan. On 8 February former monk Rinzin Dorje self-immolated in Sichuan and later died. On 9 February monk Sonam Rabyang self-immolated in Sichuan. On 11 February nun Tenzin Choedron self-immolated and died in Sichuan. On 13 February monk Lobsang Gyatso, self-immolated in Sichuan. On 4 March student Tsering Kyi self-immolated and died in Gansu. A further twelve self-immolations during this period remain unconfirmed by the Chinese government.

British diplomats have lobbied the relevant authorities to ensure access to Aba, where the majority of self-immolations have taken place, and provide information about the situation there. A British diplomat attempted to visit Aba in February 2012 but was denied access to the region. Some international journalists were able to make clandestine visits to Aba.


Further reading:

Human Rights and Democracy: The 2011 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report
China and Tibet sections of the 2011 FCO Report
Quarterly update on China: Jan-Mar 2012



Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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