China challenged on its human rights record in Tibet at the UN

Chinese Vice-Foreign Affairs Minister Le Yucheng
Chinese Vice-Foreign Affairs Minister Le Yucheng
Chinese Vice-Foreign Affairs Minister Le Yucheng
7th November 2018

More recommendations on Tibet raised than ever before

For the past month, Free Tibet has been encouraging its supporters to contact their governments, urging them to raise Tibet at the UN's Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Over 2000 of you have responded, demanding your governments not to turn a blind eye to China’s human rights abuses in Tibet.

The UPR finally took place this Tuesday 6 November at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

China's record was examined for the first time since 2013 and several countries used this platform to challenge China on its human rights abuses. Nine states (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) gave particular focus to Tibet, issuing 12 recommendations between them.

This is an increase on 2013, when 11 recommendations were issued mentioning Tibet, and 2009, when there were four.

Tashi Wangchuk
Tashi Wangchuk

The recommendations on Tibet included urging China to allow international observers into Tibet, respecting Tibetans’ rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression and calling for the release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for “inciting separatism”.

The Chinese delegation responded to the recommendations and claims that its human rights record had deteriorated, asserting that the countries behind these claims were disregarding China’s “remarkable achievements”. 

Uyghurs and Tibetans unite to protest their rights outside UN

While government representatives and diplomats held the official discussions behind the doors of the United Nations Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva, around 1,000 people, including Tibetans, Uyghurs and supporters, gathered outside, protesting against the ongoing abuses in China. 

Protesters carried banners condemning the detention of an estimated one million Uyghurs in Chinese prison camps and the lack of freedoms in Tibet, which has seen more than 150 self-immolation protests since 2009.

Today, East Turkistan and Tibetan people are suffering because of Communist China. The Uyghur people are suffering from economic, cultural, social and religious restrictions by China’s Communist Party.

 said Dolkun Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress. 

Tashi Tsering from Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan chairperson added:

Thousands of monks have been displaced from monasteries because of Chinese government policies. Tibetans are heavily scrutinised even inside their own country. There is no freedom of movement. There is no freedom to get together. So, the situation is very, very critical. Therefore, we are here today to raise awareness and to give voice to our brothers and sisters inside Tibet.

The group marched from Lake Geneva to the Broken Chair sculpture outside the Palace of Nations, headquarters of the Human Rights Council.

Uyghurs and Tibetans jointly hold anti-China protest rally outside UN


The mass detention of, and other abuses against, the Uyghur people were raised by a number of countries at the UPR, along with abuses against Chinese people, such as the harassment and detention of human rights lawyers.

In collaboration with our research partner Tibet Watch we were able to actively pariticpate in the UPR process by submitting a detailed list of human rights abuses in Tibet to the Human Rights Council. Since then we have met with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and numerous foreign embassies, requesting that these countries raise Tibet at the UPR.

Among those countries we met were Denmark, France and New Zealand, who issued four recommendations between them.

It is encouraging to see an increase in the number of countries raising the issue of Tibet at the UN, but Tibet needs more support, and these recommendations must be followed up if China is to be held accountable for its abuses in Tibet.

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