UNHCR Commissioner’s visit to China makes no sense, without possibility of unhindered access, investigation of human rights violations

The announcement of the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Batchelet to China on March 8 was seen as a much-anticipated welcome development considering that it came to fruition after requests formulated three and a half years ago. While the UN human rights chief has officially announced a visit to Uyghur regions, she has no plans to visit Tibet, southern Mongolia or Hong Kong. Apart from announcing a visit to Uyghur regions, the UN human rights chief has failed in her commitment to publish a report documenting the genocide against the Uyghurs which has been pending since 2021. Planned to leave in a few weeks, she did not specify how she intended to undertake an independent monitoring and evaluation of the human rights situation in China. More importantly, she refused briefings from Tibetan, Uyghur and Hong Kong groups and did not meet with any groups affected or victims of Chinese atrocities.

The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, in its resolution adopted during the second session of the 17th House in March this year, explicitly called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize a visit to Tibet to assess the situation. human rights. Tibetans and supporters of Tibet appealed to his office to demand the inclusion of Tibet in his itinerary. Mary Robinson’s visit to Tibet in 1998 remains the only official visit by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights to Tibet.

Like the Uyghurs, Tibetans have faced endless atrocities under the oppressive rule of the Chinese Communist Party since China invaded Tibet in 1949. China has succeeded in making Tibetans a minority in their own country through to its aggressive policy of population transfer in the name of development and progress. Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy basic rights to freedom of expression, thought and assembly.

The heavy restrictions and control of the religious life of Tibetans have seen many religious leaders arrested, silenced and closely monitored. Among these, one of the most prominent figures is Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama who was abducted at the age of six on May 17, 1995, three days after being recognized as reincarnated by His Holiness. the Dalai Lama and has not been seen since. This year, Tibetans around the world observe 26 years since his disappearance with his family.

With no space for dissent due to heavy surveillance, Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation to express their protest against the brutal policies of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party. 158 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, of which 136 have died.

A recent report by Tibet Watch suggests that China is launching its language assimilation campaign with strict guidelines for Tibetan parents to assume a crucial role in passing on the Chinese language to their children. The assimilationist policy aimed at annihilating Tibetan identity is evident from another report which provides evidence that from an early age Tibetan children are forced to attend colonial boarding schools run by the Chinese authorities to indoctrinate and educate them. integrate into Chinese culture and culture. ideology.

According to the Freedom House report, Tibet is the least free country linked to Syria and South Sudan in the past two years. Human Rights Watch, in its recent public statement, expressed concern “that the High Commissioner has remained silent on the human rights crisis in Tibet” and “regrets the perceived lack of consistency in the High Commissioner’s approach. Commissioner in the face of the human rights crisis in China, which poses a risk to the credibility of OHCHR and its perceived ability to deal with serious allegations against a great power”.

The UN human rights chief should not forget that UN reports and findings are key to exerting international pressure on countries like China to adhere to international norms and principles. By not following due process and human rights monitoring procedures, the United Nations system itself is giving China carte blanche to commit gross human rights violations and genocide. . This only erodes what remains of our faith in the UN to safeguard human rights and freedoms as enshrined in international laws and treaties.

In short, the visit of the UN human rights commissioner is bound to be ceremonial and even worse, a dangerous facade orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party to whitewash its repressive policies against Tibetans, Uyghurs and Hong Kongers. Without any guarantee of unhindered access to all parts of China, free access to prisons and detention centers and unsupervised confidential meetings with victims of human rights violations, his visit will only contribute weaken the credibility of UN human rights mechanisms. I support the coalition of 220 groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians and Chinese Democratic groups in their demands to postpone the visit.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.