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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

TCHRD Press Statement on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 11, 2008

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)
December 10, 2008
As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) today under the theme of "Dignity and Justice for all of us," we at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) are reminded of the importance of this remarkable document to people the world over, and redeem our commitment working in educating and creating awareness of human rights so that the people can claim and enjoy their rights. The rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration -- such as nondiscrimination; freedom of movement and association; right to education and asylum; freedom of thought, opinion, and expression; and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention-- are of particular importance to Tibetans who have undergone one of the most difficult periods in her history in recent times with massive human rights violations in every sphere of their lives under the Chinese rule.
In addition to setting out rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls on every person to help promote and defend those rights -- for our fellow human beings and ourselves. For many years, TCHRD has worked steadfastly in highlighting the human rights violations of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule in Tibet and exerted extra efforts in protecting human rights on their behalf, promoting and educating the concept of human rights as enshrined in the UDHR to the general public for more than a decade.
On 10 December, Tibetans commemorate not only International Human Rights Day, but also the conferment of the Noble Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama in 1989, who epitomizes the struggle for peace and human rights through non-violence. We join together in the celebration of these rights on this day when the noble clauses of the UDHR were adopted sixty years ago.
The past eleven months in Tibet witnessed unprecedented violations of Tibetan's human rights and freedoms. It is highly deplorable and condemnable that the People's Republic of China (PRC), despite being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a state party to UN treaties on human rights, fails to respect and uphold the basic principles set forth in the UDHR and that the most blatant forms of violations are regularly occurring in the region with impunity. Chinese authorities continue to practice a systematic denial of human rights of the Tibetan people. Mr. Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, on the eve of the anniversary, acknowledges human rights problems in China by saying that human rights development still has "quite a few things less than satisfactory," but would see progress as the modernization drive went on. However, time will stand a witness to the optimism that the Chinese authorities shown in the human rights development based on its so called 'people first' policy.
During the past eleven months of 2008, TCHRD has documented, among others, the following few events:
- TCHRD received information on more than 120 known Tibetans who were killed in the recent series of protests across the "Tibet Autonomous Region " ('TAR') and the Tibetan areas outside "TAR" since 10 March unrest;
- More than 6500 Tibetans were arbitrarily detained or arrested for their participation in the pan-Tibet protest of suspected of political activities;
- There are at least more than a thousand Tibetans whose current whereabouts and well being remains completely unknown to their family members and their close associates or affiliated monasteries. The XI th Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, has been missing for the past thirteen years along with his parents. There has been no information about his well being and whereabouts to date;
- Altogether the Centre registered over 300 separate events of protests of different magnitudes covering 90 Counties in the "TAR" and in the Tibetan areas outside the "TAR";
- The year witnessed one of the most ruthless and repressive crackdowns by the Chinese law enforcement agencies in detention centers, police stations, prisons and at the site of demonstrations. Tibet has witnessed one of the highest numbers of death from torture this year. There were reports of Tibetans having been beaten to death or released on their near death condition, for solely raising slogan in support of the Tibetan leader and calling for his swift return to Tibet or for more freedom and human rights. There were a few cases of people committing suicide due to the atrocious repression and others who became mentally unstable following inhumane torture;
- The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) recommended that the People's Republic of China (PRC) probe the deaths of Tibetans killed in the spring 2008 protests in Tibet and to adopt measures to prohibit and prevent enforced disappearances and to provide information on the fate of missing persons including the XIth Panchen Lama in its concluding observation on the fourth periodic report of the People's Republic of China on the implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee asked China to ensure that all persons detained or arrested in the aftermath of the Spring 2008 events have "prompt access to an independent lawyer, independent medical care and the right to lodge complaints free from official reprisal or harassment;"
- In addition to the last year's implementation of the "Tibet Autonomous Region Implementing Measures for the Regulations on Religious Affairs" on 1 January 2007("Implementing Measures"), and the more specific Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism (the Reincarnation Measures), the Chinese authorities launched a stipulated two-month' renewed "Patriotic Education" campaign at the beginning of April this year following unprecedented protests across the Tibetan plateau. The campaign was reinvigorated and targeted not only the monastic institutions, which were long considered as the bastion of political dissidence, but also government employees, security forces, farmers, nomads, private entrepreneurs, and educational institutions with more rigor and intensity. The Centre recorded a large number of Tibetans arrested or detained simply for opposing the campaign which requires denouncing their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and pledging their allegiance to the Communist Party;
- Sweeping new measures were introduced by the People's Government of the Kardze "TAP" in Kardze to purge hundreds of monasteries, and to strike hard at heart of the Tibetan monastic communities and its identities, and to restrict religious practice in the wake of protests across the plateau that reveal a systematic new attack on Tibetan Buddhism;
- At least 165 were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their participation in the recent protest, of which 6 people were sentenced to life imprisonment and at least more than 75 were sentenced to 10 years and more of imprisonment. The nature of the court proceedings and the official interpretation of the Tibetans' activities obviously bring forward questions of the competency of the court and the official downplaying of the nature of the Tibetan activities. The legitimacy of the court sentencing procedure raised big question as the Tibetans were denied access to a meaningful defense and many were tried secretly. There are hundreds of Tibetans who are still held without any charges;
·         In the pre and post Olympics periods, the Chinese authorities have virtually sealed off the entire plateau to foreign journalists and observers and imposed information blackouts despite promising to increase openness in the buildup to the Olympics. For these reasons the Centre fears for the safety and well-being of those now in detention and those who have disappeared since March this year.
On this anniversary, TCHRD urges the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to put an immediate end to the practice of torture, enforced disappearances, "patriotic education" campaigns, arbitrary detention and information blackouts and also calls upon the PRC government to respect and comply with international standards of human rights practices and its own constitutional guarantees.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary, TCHRD is organizing several events and we would like to invite all of you to join, which is aimed at emphasizing the universality and indivisibility of rights that are enshrined in the UDHR. The Centre will set up a stall outside the Tsuklakhang, the venue for celebration of International Human Rights Day, by distributing publication such as UDHR and other major International Covenants in Tibetan and English languages besides distributing Centre's human rights publications, posters etc.
In the evening, the Centre will screen a documentary entitiled "What Remains of Us" to the general public at the main Temple courtyard after the candle light vigil, which will be coordinated by regional NGOs of Dharamsala, for the people who have laid their lives while exercising their fundamental rights enshrined in the UDHR.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is the first Tibetan non-governmental organization (NGO) to be formed with the mission" to highlight the human rights situation in Tibet and to promote principles of democracy in the Tibetan community." TCHRD is independent of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and is based in Dharamsala, India. Founded in January 1996, and registered as an NGO on 4 May 1996. For further information visit our website: or write to us on:
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