Geneva: Five UN Special Procedures mandate-holders called on China to drop charges against Tibetan environmentalist, anti-corruption crusader and human rights defender A-nya Sengdra as per the report published in the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.
On 6 December 2019, A-nya Sengdra was sentenced to 7 years prison term after a sham trial by the Chinese court in Golog Prefecture, Amdo, eastern Tibet. He was falsely charged for “gathering people to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” He was a respected environmentalist and anti-corruption activist in his community and was widely known for his campaign work against illegal mining activities and the Chinese government’s officials’ corruption. He was detained for 14 months before the swift and shady trial in 2019. Immediately after the conviction lawyer of A-Nya Sengdra said he will fight the conviction and file an appeal.
The UN experts have expressed deep concerns about A-Nya Sengdra’s conditions and said, “We are deeply concerned by what appears to be the criminalisation of the legitimate work of a minority community member and human rights defender. We are also concerned about the reports of deterioration of his physical and mental integrity due to poor detention conditions.”
The case of A-nya Sengdra was highlighted by Special Appointee for Human Rights Ms Thinlay Chukki, Tibet Bureau Geneva during the 43rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council. Delivering the statement on the crackdown on Tibetan cultural rights defenders who fall under the wider umbrella of human rights defenders Ms Thinlay Chukki had noted that, “A-nya Sengdra a Tibetan nomad defending the rights of local Tibetan nomads was sentenced to 7 years in imprisonment on trumped-up charges last December.” The video recording of the statements can be viewed here.
Noting this wider crackdown on the Tibetan human rights defenders, the UN human rights experts have highlighted that “The charges against Mr Sengdra stem from a wider crackdown on Tibetan minority human rights defenders. They constitute violations of Mr Sengdra’s right as a member of a minority community to exercise his human rights without discrimination or intimidation, including his freedom of expression.” Urging China to drop the charges the human rights experts further noted, “We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including by lifting the charges against Mr Sengdra. The human rights of the Tibetan minority must be fully respected.”
Thanking the UN human rights experts, Tibet Bureau Geneva Representative Chhimey Rigzen remarked, “China has been trying to suppress the Tibetans through different means including arresting the Tibetans under false charges. During the 43rd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council Tibet Bureau Geneva had highlighted the persecution of Tibetan human rights defenders and advocated for their release. The Tibetan human rights defenders are subjected to unfair trial and arbitrary sentencing. They work under hostile conditions with no freedom of expression, movement or association. China has been misusing many of its laws with vague and over-broad definition of crimes to frame the human rights defenders of false charges. Therefore, we welcome the timely intervention of the UN human rights experts in this matter.”
Moreover, in November last year, Twelve Special Procedures in their joint communication to China expressed grave concerns of this misuse of laws leading to “arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, absence of judicial oversight and procedural safeguards and restrictions of the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to education and the right to freedom of movement within an increasingly securitized environment, particularly for designated minorities, notably Uyghurs and Tibetans.”
The UN human rights experts under the five special procedures who have called upon China to acquit A-Nya Sengdra are Mr Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Ms Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Mr Sètondji Roland Adjovi and Mr Seong-Phil Hong, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Ms Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders; and Mr Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.