On the sideline of the ongoing 53rd United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session, the Tibet Bureau-Geneva and Society for Threatened Peoples jointly organised a side event to shed light on China’s continued repression in Tibet.
The side event titled “Tibetans Report on the Current State of Repression: 75 Years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” was moderated by Hanno Schedler from the Society for Threatened Peoples. UN Advocacy Officer of the Tibet Bureau Kalden Tsomo, former Tibetan political prisoner Phuntsok Nyidron and Tibet Advocacy Coalition’s Coordinator Gloria Montgomery spoke at the event on Tibet.
Speaking at the event, Kalden Tsomo said, “Even after 75 years of adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), political repression; assimilation of Tibetan culture and identity; social discrimination and economic marginalisation of Tibetan people; and destruction of Tibet’s natural environment continue to take place in Tibet under China’s control.” Furthermore, she highlighted ongoing repression by China in Tibet and implored the UN member states and the international community to make concerted efforts to mitigate China’s violation of rights in Tibet.
Phuntsok Nyidron, one of Tibet’s longest-serving former female political prisoners, shared her first-hand account of Chinese authorities’ inhuman treatment and different forms of torture that she was subjected to while in prison from 1989 to 2004. She said that the situation in Tibet continues to deteriorate with ever-growing repression and suppression of Tibetan culture, identity and language. She appealed for consistent international community support for Tibet and support for the release of political prisoners in Tibet. She added that because of the international community’s support, she was able to be unchained from the Chinese repression and speak on Tibet. She also called for support from the international community in fulfilling the aspirations of Tibetans for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
Tibet Advocacy Coalition’s coordinator Gloria Montgomery spoke about forced residential boarding schools in Tibet. She said a research report by the Tibet Action Institute, published last year, uncovered at least 900,000 Tibetan children aged 6-18 have been separated from their families and communities and forced to live in residential schools. There are also estimates of a further 100,000 four and five-year-olds separated from their parents and living in boarding pre-schools for at least five days a week,” added Gloria. She highlighted the emotional, psychological and cultural distress that would be caused to any child by the forced residential schools. She urged the UN member states to echo the calls and voices of the UN treaty bodies to “immediately abolish” forced residential schools and allow private Tibetan schools to be established.