UN Should To Take Action To Support Tibet's Herders

UN Should To Take Action To Support Tibet's Herders

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This appeal seeks to secure much needed action and greater awareness on the plight of Tibetan nomads and farmers who are, in their many thousands, being forced from their lands by the Chinese regime. Although it's a prominently reported  issue we feel that the appropriate United Nations offices and forums are not giving enough reportage, examination or support on the subject. It's time that was changed which is the goal of our petition.

Petition Calling For More Exposure, Reportage and Action
From The United Nations On The Issue Of Tibetans Forcibly Relocated
By The Chinese Authorities

We the undersigned wish to bring to the attention of the following:

Ms Michelle Bachelet United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger President, The United Nations Human Rights Council

Mr Dr Fernand de Varennes RP, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
United Nations OHCHR

The forced relocation and eviction of Tibetan nomads, by the Chinese authorities, from their traditional lands. A concern which has been well documented and carefully reported to United Nations bodies by NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, and Tibetan Center For Human Rights And Democracy

This process, while presented by China's regime as a response to environmental concerns from supposed over grazing, or portrayed as an intervention to provide Tibetans with modern housing facilities and so relieving them from the harsh conditions of nomadic life, is in essence violating a number of human rights. Which may be summarized under the following areas:

Forced Evictions

“The practice of forced eviction constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing” (Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 1993/77),

These violate a several human rights including; security of the person, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and freedom of movement.

Since Tibetan nomads are experiencing:

“..the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection” (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, general comment No. 7)

it's clear from a considerable body of available information, drawn from research, witness statements and material covertly sourced from occupied Tibet, that important rights are being abused and denied as a direct consequence of these evictions.

Coercive Measures

Tibetans have little choice in their forced relocation, facing a spiral of draconian measures ranging from verbal intimidation, physical threats, penalties such as withdrawal of housing or social permits, and prison.

Such coercion falls within the scope of a number of United Nations declarations and resolutions which recognize and oppose the negative results of sanctions, upon the enjoyment of human rights, particularly for a civilian population targeted.

The Human Rights Council followed this trend. Adopting September 26, 2014, resolution 27/21 and Corr.1 on human rights and unilateral coercive measures. The resolution stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation are contrary to international humanitarian law.

Denial Of Cultural And Minority Rights

Although Tibetans within international law are more accurately justified as being described as a distinct people, for the purposes of this petition, and mindful that the United Nations only recognizes them as a 'minority', that term is included here.

The United Nations Minorities Declaration of 1992 references in Article 1 minorities as based on national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity, and provides that States should protect their existence.

This critical statement begs the following question:

How, by coercing Tibetan nomads to abandon their traditional way-of-life and nomadic, self-sustaining and environmentally sensitive culture are the Chinese authorities protecting or indeed respecting the cultural and minority rights of Tibetans?

China's policy of relocating Tibetans into concrete settlements is a denial of their right to cultural identity. Some would go further and assert that it constitutes a process which through coercion erodes that identity, resulting in serious social disadvantage and marginalization.

Indeed, it is interesting to note that as far back as 20011 a former UN Special Rapporteur Mr. Miloon Kothari said that the forced eviction leads to marginalization especially of children and women. While on March 8 that year the UN Human Rights Council discussed Olivier de Schutter, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food’s preliminary report (issued after visiting China from 15 to 23 December 2010). Mr de Schutter had stated;

“Nomadic herders in the western provinces and autonomous regions, especially in Tibet (Xizang) and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Regions, also face increasing pressure on their access to land.”

His report also noted that Tibetan nomads should not, as a result of the measures adopted under China's so-called, 'restore grassland's policy', be forced into a situation where they have no other options than to sell their herd and resettle.

Such coercion and marginalization continues in 2020 causing understandable international concern as reflected in article 10 of the United States Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 which calls upon the Chinese authorities to:

“neither provide incentive for nor facilitate the involuntary or coerced relocation of Tibetan nomads from their traditional pasture lands into concentrated settlements.”

Yet the forced re-settlements go on and at a massive scale, in Amdo (one of Tibet's three traditional regions) renamed by the Chinese authorities as 'Qinghai' some 200, 000 Tibetans have been forced into 'socialist villages' Source: https://tchrd.org/200000-nomads-and-farmers-relocated-in-less-than-four-years-in-qinghai/

Consequences

There is little doubt that Tibetans and their culture have been targeted by the Chinese authorities with the objective of eroding Tibetan cultural and national identity. In the ethnic cleansing of Tibet's grasslands and mountain valleys, forcibly deporting thousands upon thousands of Tibetans; into what effectively concentration settlements, we are witnessing nothing less than a form of cultural genocide. With all the attendant violations of human rights which follow from that process.

Tibetans are denied their traditional way-of-life, no longer free to produce and manage their own food supply, coerced into concrete settlements they become utterly dependent upon the Chinese authorities for their food and fuel. Any dissent is met with penalties such as reducing or withdrawing such supplies. In reality, far from the staged propaganda of 'grateful' Tibetans moving into new homes, these places are effectively detention centers.

The emotional and psychological trauma of being forced off your land is serious enough yet the misery has only just begun for Tibetans coached in convoys to these concentration settlements. On arrival the novelty soon vanishes, replaced by the anguishing reality that the freedom you once had to roam the lands has been removed. No longer can you travel with your herds, , the tradition of your father and of generations of Tibetans now broken. You are a prisoner.

There's little educational or employment opportunity for Tibetans in these camps, unless of course they learn Chinese, which their children have no choice but to study. This leads to a steady loss of spoken or written Tibetan, another aim of China's strategy for Tibet.

Under such conditions it's not long before a crippling sense of alienation, and loss, takes hold followed by depression and other psychological traumas. Is it any wonder that rates of alcoholism are reported to be increasing among Tibetans, along with suicides?

The Chinese policy of forcibly relocating Tibetans is guilty of violating a range of UN declarations and statutes, some of which China is a signatory to. The plight of Tibetan nomads and farmers driven from their homes into a miserable existence has been reported in considerable detail, along with the erosion of Tibetan cultural identity. UN bodies had in the past reported on the issue.

Action

Yet in 2020 we are deeply concerned to note worryingly little concern or debate from the United Nations with regard to the plight of Tibetans whose culture is being eliminated by this program of forced resettlement.

It is equally troubling to observe that the Chinese authorities seem not to attract the critical scrutiny of relevant UN departments and forum on this matter.

We, the signatories of this petition therefore call upon the United Nations High Commissioner, The President of the Human Rights Council and Special Rapporteur For Minority Issues to ensure the issues arising from China's policies and practice towards Tibetan nomads and farmers is given more rigorous, prominent and annual examination within the various forum concerning human rights.

Furthermore we call upon United Nations Human Rights Office Of The Commissioner to hold the Chinese authorities to account for the misery, oppression and trauma suffered by Tibetans who culture is being forcibly denied.

In times when at the touch of a device, information is instantly available documenting the situation inside occupied Tibet people around the world who care for human rights, freedom and the respect and support cultural tradition and diversity are becoming increasingly aware of the oppression suffered by Tibetans. Equally they are asking, as does this petition, why there's such little action and reportage from those UN institutions that are purposed to champion the rights of those whose culture is suppressed, degraded and criminalized.