“The police went to the house of a Tibetan community leader to arrest him. When they found he was not home, they dragged his son out of the house, into the courtyard and held a gun in his mouth. The boy was only about 12 or 13. He looked so frightened.” Eyewitness account, Drango county, Tibet, January 2012
There can be no normal childhood in an abnormal society.
The children of Tibet face all the challenges of life under occupation, and in many cases are full participants in the struggle to resist it, including the ongoing self-immolation protests.
That means they are also victims of the systematic and ever-present abuse of human rights in Tibet, such as 13-year-old nun, Ngawang Sangdrol.
The rights of Tibetan children
Life under oppressive Chinese rule, even for those who have never known anything else, is an unbearable burden for many of Tibet’s young people – but restrictions on the flow of information mean that the immense challenges they face have rarely been properly documented.
In 2012, the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) began to review China’s compliance with its commitments on human rights for young people. Free Tibet and its research partner Tibet Watch submitted a comprehensive and damning joint report to the committee documenting the reality for children growing up under military occupation.
The report, based on detailed and authoritative research by Tibet Watch, details:
- Children beaten, shot, imprisoned and killed for standing up for their rights
- Children orphaned, threatened and assaulted because their families resist the occupation
- Children denied the right to learn their language and culture, and “educated” to be second-class citizens in their own country
- Children defying the authorities by demonstrating, sharing information, and even burning themselves to death
- The 6 year old Tibetan boy who became the world’s youngest political prisoner
"Growing up under China’s occupation: the plight of Tibet’s children":
Protests in Tibet
Over two-thirds of those who have self-immolated in Tibet are younger than 25.
Eight children, Tibetans under 18 years of age, have set themselves on fire in protest.
Four are confirmed dead*.
The whereabouts of the survivors, taken from the scene of their protests by security forces, are currently unknown.
United Nations and China
UN processes are the only mechanisms for holding China to account on its human rights record.
During 2013, the UNCRC considered China's case and demanded answers from China to specific questions. Many of Free Tibet's concerns were taken up by the committee. Find out more about its findings on Tibet and China's response here.
In 2014, the UN has continued to put pressure on China, with a review by the Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights (CESCR) highlighting child malnutrition as occurring "mainly" in Tibet.
*Figures correct at the time of writing
Banner photo: Pedro Saraiva