In a new report issued on July 2010, Human Rights Watch documented the widespread abuses committed by Chinese security forces in suppressing the Spring 2008 wave of Tibetan protests. Human Rights Watch does not dispute that the Chinese government has the duty to maintain public order and prosecute violent protesters, and that a number of incidents in 2008 involved violence or had the potential to devolve into violence. Yet the report also found that Chinese security forces had used disproportionate force and acted with deliberate brutality during and after the protests.
In addition, the report showed that officials in Tibet have yet to account for hundreds of detainees arrested in the wake of the unrest, and that the highly politicized judicial system continues to preclude any possibility of protesters being judged fairly. More than two years after the protests, disappearances, wrongful convictions and imprisonment, persecution of families, and the targeting of Tibetans suspected of sympathizing with the protest movement continue unabated.
China must release all detainees that have not been charged or who have been detained for exercising their freedom of expression. China must release accurate information about those killed and injured by security forces and hold accountable, in a manner consistent with international human rights law, those responsible for using excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.
Mr. President, in September 2009, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, identified “discrimination and the failure to protect minority rights” as “underlying causes” behind the protests in Tibet. Despite repeated calls over the past two years the Chinese government has not allowed the High Commissioner or special rapporteurs to visit the region.
In fact China has not agreed to a vast majority of Special Procedures requests to visit the country. Requests from the Special Rapporteurs or experts on freedom of expression, toxic waste, health and human rights, extrajudicial executions, extreme poverty, human rights defenders, the right to adequate housing, minority issues and access to safe drinking water and sanitation are all pending. An agreed visit for the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion has been pending since 2004 and we have yet to see the whether the Special Rapporteur on right to food will actually be able to visit the country. Human Rights Watch urges the Human Rights Council to call on the Chinese government to allow such visits to take place as a matter of urgency. Mr. President, at this session the High Commissioner said that the curtailment of civil society’s scope of action in countries such as China was disturbing. China’s efforts to suppress human rights defenders voices even at this council is a sad sign of its intransigence. The Human Rights Council should call on China to abide by its international human rights obligations and respect human rights defenders’ right to work freely and safely for the protection of human rights in China.