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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

US State Department annual Human Rights Report highlights "severe repression" in Tibet

April 18, 2016

By Tenzin Dharpo

Phayul, April 15, 2016 - The US Department of State in their annual report published on April 13 has concluded that the situation in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties under the People’s Republic of China remains “severe” with the Tibetan population’s civil rights including the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement “strictly curtailed”.

On self-immolation by Tibetans, the report said, “Self-immolators reportedly continued to see their acts as protests against political and religious oppression. The Chinese government implemented policies that punished friends, relatives, and associates of self-immolators,” who are by law charged with “intentional homicide and subjected to punishment.”

The report also expounded on the denial of a fair trial and shoddy trial procedures. “In cases that authorities claimed involved “endangering state security” or “separatism,” trials often were cursory and closed, the report said.

According to a January report from the head of the TAR’s Higher People’s Court, the court handled 20 cases of crimes concerning “separatism” and “national security” in 2013. No details about the cases were made publicly available.

The recent case of the Tibetan writer and activist Shokjang who was charged with ‘inciting separatism’ resonates with the point. The Tibetan writer wrote a lengthy appeal letter in which he categorically justified his appeal. “If one talks about instigating separatism, I have not written even a word of separatism, much less instigated it. If I write about an incident in which I suffered harm, and that becomes an unfounded accusation against me, and I write an appeal to the court about the incident, that does not make me a separatist,” he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 24 from his prison cell.

The report also made a reference a Washington Post report that claimed “North Korea is more accessible to foreign journalists than Tibet is.” The extreme crackdown on restricting the freedom of press has meant that the foreign journalists who after repeated attempts manage to get permission are taken on a guided tours and “large parts of the country such as Tibetan-inhabited regions outside of the TAR, are effectively off-limits.”

Other key issues such as arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life, disappearance, torture and other cruel and degrading treatment, prison and detention center conditions, arbitrary arrest or detention, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom to participate in the political process, corruption and lack of transparency in government, and discrimination and societal abuses were also covered in the report.

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