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  • 16 Mar, 2024
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China interrupts Tibetan Speaker at UN while highlighting cultural rights violations in Tibet



In a shocking incident at the 52nd UN Human Rights Council Session on March 15th, Representative Thinlay Chukki, Tibetan Speaker, was repeatedly interrupted by the Chinese delegation while speaking on behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples.

Representative Thinlay Chukki thanked the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights for the report on migrants' cultural rights and brought to the Rapporteur's attention the situation of Tibetan nomads in Tibet during the interactive dialogue. The Chinese delegation immediately raised a point of order and interrupted the statement. The Chinese delegation, referring to the speaker as a "separatist" involved in "anti-China separatist" activities, stated that "allowing her to conduct separatist activities severely violates the process and principles of the UN Charter" and requested the vice-president of the Council to prevent the speaker from delivering her statement.

After considering the matter, the Vice-President of the Human Rights Council stated that no violations of the rules had occurred and allowed the speaker to resume the dialogue. When the statement resumed, the Chinese delegation again interrupted the speaker, saying that "this Representative severely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and demanding a "immediate stop."

The US delegation, on the other hand, called the attention of the Vice President's to allow the speaker to take the floor and not to interrupt without first listening to the content of the statement. After careful consideration of UN procedures and principles, the Vice-President allowed the speaker to resume speaking.

Representative Thinlay Chukki stated in the statement, "Several Tibetan schools catering to the children of Tibetan nomads have been closed, and they are being forced to attend colonial style residential schools." Representative also emphasised UN experts' concerns about nearly one million Tibetan children being forcibly assimilated, as well as the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights' concluding observations, which called on the Chinese government to abolish the coerced residential school system.

Finally, the Representative requested "clear guidelines and recommendations to the Chinese government to protect the cultural rights of Tibetans, particularly Tibetan nomads who are forcibly relocated from their traditional lands with cultural heritage."

The incident has underscored the importance of protecting the right to free speech and ensuring that speakers at UN meetings are able to speak freely and without interruption, regardless of their country of origin or the subject matter of their speech. It has also highlighted the ongoing struggle for human rights and cultural preservation in Tibet and the need for continued international support and advocacy.

Edited and collated by Team TRC