Geneva: The Tibet Bureau in Geneva testified on the human rights situation in Tibet before the Swiss parliamentarians on Monday at the ongoing autumn session of the parliament. The Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, in cooperation with the Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Switzerland-China Friendship Parliamentarian Group and Parliamentary Group Solidarity International hosted the hearing titled “Coherent implementation of the Swiss China Strategy: the role of Parliament in strengthening human rights” where speakers from different fields contributed to the discussion.
Representative Chimey Rigzen and Kalden Tsomo from Tibet Bureau Geneva and President of Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association Thomas Büchli, attended the session.
On behalf of the Tibetan people, UN Advocacy Officer of Tibet Bureau Geneva Kalden Tsomo testified on the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet. She highlighted the systematical violations of the fundamental rights of Tibetans that have continued for five generations of Chinese leadership since its brutal occupation of Tibet in 1959. The pervasive control over the religious practice of Tibetan Buddhists, unprecedented restrictions on Tibetan culture and language, and a rampant crackdown on Tibetan rights defenders due to which the situation in Tibet is becoming oppressive with more repressive moves by the Chinese authorities.
Citing the Chinese policies and practices aimed to sinicize Tibetan culture and identity, Kalden added the daily administration of Tibetan Buddhist learning centres, monasteries and nunneries that are administered by CCP backed so-called Democratic Management Committee. The committee has effectively turned Tibetan monasteries and nunneries into centres for political indoctrination. While expressing concern over China stepping up its stringent restrictions on the Tibetan language, Kalden said, the Tibetan language has been replaced by mandarin as a medium of instruction in schools in Tibet. The opportunity for Tibetan children to study the Tibetan language is tightening at an unprecedented level. She further expressed concern over the increasing number of Tibetan children and college graduates who are losing their ability to speak, write and read in the Tibetan language due to the Chinese government repressive measures curtailing the right to education in their mother tongue.
Kalden also expressed gratitude for the special relationship shared between Switzerland and the Tibetan people and outlined Switzerland as the first western country to accept Tibetan refugees, making Tibetan people the first non-European refugees in Switzerland, and also hosting one of the largest Tibetan communities in Europe.
“The country has more potential in defending the rights of the people who are silenced and suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party, including Tibetans”, she added and urged the government of Switzerland to examine the annual report on the human rights situation in China and regions under China’s control, including Tibet, and introduce a motion on reciprocal access to Tibet. She also urged the Swiss lawmakers to call on China to respect the rights of Tibetan people, including rights to identity own Tibetans’ religious leaders without state interference. Kalden further appealed to lawmakers to closely monitor China’s transnational repression, censorship and influence operations within Switzerland, including its targeted effect on the Swiss-Tibetan community.
Switzerland for the first time presented its China strategy 2021-2024, earlier this year. In June 2021, the Swiss federal also presented new guidelines for Switzerland’s human rights diplomacy engagement, which are intended to strengthen Switzerland’s commitment to human rights in the world.
Swiss-based Tibet civil societies have submitted a 30-page report titled China’s Violations of Universal Values: Lessons for the Future”, during a local civil societies meeting called by Swiss federal to discuss Switzerland’s China-strategy 2021-2024, held in August 2020.