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  • 30 Jan, 2024
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Chinese Open Letter to UNHRC on Tibet Human Rights is Misleading and False


An open letter has been sent by Chinese Civil Society Organizations to the President of the United Nations Human Rights. These organizations assert that “there is a orchestrated campaign spreading misinformation about the human rights situation in Tibet”. The portrayal of a prospering and untroubled Tibet glosses over documented evidence of religious suppression, educational homogenization favoring Mandarin, and a pattern of detentions without due process.

Restrictions on language rights and religious freedom are well-documented phenomena in the region, with numerous instances of monasteries being controlled or shuttered and the Tibetan language being sidelined in education and public life.

Moreover, the narrative of harmony does not align with accounts from former political prisoners and legal advocates who speak of a lack of due process, restricted access to legal representation, and in some cases, reports of torture and mistreatment.

Human Rights Watch highlighted Tibet in their annual report 2023 on human rights around the world. Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas continue to enforce severe restrictions on freedoms of religion, expression, movement, and assembly, observed the report.

“Popular concerns over issues such as mass relocation, environmental degradation, or the phasing out of the Tibetan language in primary education were met with repression. Local officials are required to educate the public in “obeying the law,” and cash rewards are offered to citizens prepared to inform on others”, stated the report.

Environmentalists have also raised concerns, noting that advances in infrastructure and mining operations threaten the delicate ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau, possibly disrupting local communities and traditional ways of life.

Perhaps most importantly, the open letter’s claims regarding unrestricted foreign media access to Tibet must be met with criticism. Journalists and international observers often face strict controls when attempting to visit and report on the region, raising suspicions about the transparency of the situation on the ground.

The presence of colonial-style boarding schools in occupied Tibet raises serious concerns about cultural assimilation and the erosion of Tibetan identity. These schools, often operated by Chinese authorities, implement policies that prioritize Mandarin language and Chinese cultural norms, marginalizing Tibetan language and traditions. Such educational institutions not only perpetuate a form of cultural imperialism but also contribute to the broader agenda of homogenizing Tibetan society under Chinese rule.

Dr. Gyal Lo, a Tibetan educationist who defected from China, has personally visited more than 50 such schools and estimates at least 100,000 Tibetan children living in these institutions. “It is outright cruelty to separate children from their parents, especially at this extremely young age,” Dr. Gyal Lo stated. “Not only is China tearing families apart, they are forcing these vulnerable children to become strangers to their own Tibetan culture, severing their spiritual, linguistic and cultural ties to their homes and communities. 

China referring to Tibet as "Xizang" in itself perpetuates a narrative of control and erasure of Tibetan identity. The term "Xizang" is the Chinese transliteration of Tibet, imposed by the Chinese government, and represents their assertion of sovereignty over the region. However, Tibet has its own distinct history, culture, and identity, separate from that of China. Using the Chinese designation for Tibet not only disregards Tibetan self-determination but also reinforces a narrative that delegitimizes Tibet's unique heritage and aspirations for autonomy.

There should be a demand for unbiased and unimpeded investigations into the human rights conditions in Tibet. Proper scrutiny and free access to information are essential for a genuine understanding of the current circumstances faced by the Tibetan population.

It underscores the need for vigilance against misinformation and highlights the importance of international solidarity in safeguarding the human rights of all people, including those in Tibet.

This appeal underscores the urgency of addressing the systemic violations and abuses faced by the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. By advocating for an unbiased inquiry, we the Tibet Rights Collective (TRC) seeks to bring international attention to the pressing need for accountability and justice in occupied Tibet. Such an inquiry would provide a platform for documenting human rights violations, holding perpetrators accountable, and ultimately working towards a peaceful resolution that respects the rights and aspirations of the Tibetan population.


Edited and collated by Team TRC