Geneva: Researchers from the Central Tibetan Administration highlighted China’s systematic violations of human rights and destruction of culture and natural environment in Tibet on the second day of the 3-day virtual event on 17-point Agreement & 70 Years of Oppression in Tibet organised by the Tibet Bureau Geneva.
The second-day panel discussion titled “70 Years of Oppression and Destruction in Tibet: Discussion with Researchers from CTA” was held on Saturday, 22 May 2021. The panel speakers comprised of researchers focusing on human rights and environment issues along with advocacy staff members from the Central Tibetan Administration: Tibet Bureau Geneva’s UN advocacy officer Kalden Tsomo, UN, EU & Human Rights Desk Head at the Department of Information & International Relations Dukthen Kyi, Tibet Policy Institute Environment Desk Researcher Dechen Palmo, and Tibet Policy Institute Research Fellow Tenzin Lhadon. The panel was moderated by Tibet Bureau Geneva Special Appointee for Human Rights Thinlay Chukki.
Providing an overview of human rights violations in Tibet, Kalden Tsomo traced the human rights violations and destruction to Tibetan culture, identity and damage to the natural environment began right back to the time when Tibet came under occupation of China in the 1950s. Since then, China has been constantly violating every aspect of Tibetan fundamental rights in Tibet. Kalden decried how any form of peaceful expressions against the denial of fundamental rights in Tibet bring more of arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, prison sentences and torture. In absence of space for Tibetans to take conventional form of peaceful protest, she noted how Tibetans have started resorting to self-immolation protests since 2009. Kalden also enumerated various international reports that have managed to expose the grim and deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet despite China’s desperate attempt to coverup its repressive policies and violations of human rights in Tibet, including the UN General Assembly resolutions on Tibet tabled in 1959, 1961 and 1965. She showed how such resolutions have repeatedly called on China to “respect for fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and Tibetan distinctive cultural and religious life”.
Highlighting another area of sustained Chinese oppression, DIIR’s Dukthen Kyi spoke about the flawed development policies in Tibet. Responding to trope of “liberation and prosperity in Tibet” as claimed by China repeatedly including in its latest white paper on Tibet, Dukthen revealed how Tibetan atrocities ironically remain absent in these documents. Noting how “the last 70 years under the CCP has been nothing but of oppression and destruction” she explained how while Tibet as a region continues to be a developmental priority for Chinese government, the projects have neither “liberated” nor brought “prosperity” the Tibetans. Rather, she noted how the focus has been mostly geared towards assimilation and integration of the traditional three provinces of Tibet into Chinese provinces. Dukthen Kyi went on to detail how the Tibet Work Forum (TWF) particularly in its sixth and seven work forums indicated China’s extension of development projects outside of so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to other parts of Tibetan areas to continue its policy of absolute control and assimilation. Dukthen warned of China’s intensifying religious repression and cultural genocide in Tibet through sophisticated technology to monitor and censor the Tibetans. Cases of State-led demolition of Tibetan largest Buddhist learning centers, Larung Gar and Yachen Gar exhibit how so-called development in Tibet are carried away, she added.
Based on her research, Dechen Palmo commented on how China’s last 70 years of occupation has resulted in environmental destruction in Tibet. Referring to the chapter 8 of China’s recently propagated White Paper on Tibet to justify its “liberation”, “development” and “prosperity” since the annexation of Tibet, Dechen strongly refuted Beijing claims as false, saying, “what they have done is destruction rather than protection with evidence from destructive mining, irresponsible damming, and forceful removal of Tibetan nomads.” Dechen further warned how the Chinese risk turning “the world’s highest plateau into yet another toxic landmass, creating a disaster for Tibet, for China, and for the millions of Asians who depend on Tibetan rivers” if the state continues to run its course unabated.
As the final speaker, Tenzin Lhadon shed light on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its assimilationist policies and programs in Tibet which have threatened the Tibetan history, heritage, culture, and identity for the past 70 years. She identified how the CCP has been using education as a tool for injecting this policy. Lhadon argued how the CCP’s persistent attempts to assimilate Tibetan culture, religion and language is not motivated by China’s need for total eradication of Tibetans, but rather to manage them under the discourse of the so-called “Chinese socialist characteristics”. She explained how the CCP suffers with “insecurity” surrounding its claims to Tibet, which it seeks to overcome using linear Chinese history and emphasis on material development and subsequent curbs on any other forms of loyalty or knowledge stemming from Buddhism in Tibet, Islam in Xinjiang, and Falun Gong in other parts of China.