China observes 50 years of iron clad grip over Tibet

Hong Kong, Aug.26 : China is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the setting up of its Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which represents only a stump of the original Tibetan areas in the country.

The traditionally Tibetan strongholds in modern Sichuan and Qinghai provinces have been lopped off to become part of provinces where they are now minorities, and thus, face extinction of their cultural and religious identity.

China has accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a member of the United Nations. The declaration forms the basic charter of rights for all citizens across the world.

However, over the past many decades, China’s adherence to the UDHR has been minimal at best.

When it comes to Tibet, though, even those minimal standards seem to have been misplaced, and the result is an occupied area where Tibetans count for less than an average Han Chinese citizen, and have no rights worth the name.

An article-by-article analysis of what the UDHR enjoins upon governments and grants to every human being, compared to the reality in Tibet, brings out starkly how far off the expected the Chinese performance has been.

According to Article 1 of the UDHR, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

But if looked from a Tibetan’s perspective, he or she would not consider being born under Chinese occupation as freedom.

To be equal in rights means being afforded equal treatment under the law, but as far as China is concerned, repression is the norm for any form of political dissent.

In TAR, there are severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of Tibetans, and inequality is ever present.

Article 2 of the UDHR says that everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

But in the case of the people of Tibet, their national and social origin; political opinions, their religion, and their language have all been used to persecute them.

Every existing marker of Tibetan culture has been sought to be extinguished as rapidly as possible.

The Chinese government’s repressive treatment extends to all vestiges of Tibetan culture, regardless of the source.

Article 3 of the UDHR says that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

But, when it comes to Tibet, 87000 of them were killed by the People’ Liberation Army between 1959 and 1960. The 2008 crackdown reportedly led to 228 deaths and 990 “disappearances”.

The liberty of people extends to their means of livelihood and living arrangements, but Tibetans have reportedly placed forcibly in New Socialist Villages (NSV), and are without any semblance of liberty.

The security of Tibetan in Tibet is also greatly under doubt, considering the predilection of Chinese authorities towards arbitrary arrest and detention.

Article 4 of the UDHR says no one shall be held in slavery or servitude, and slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

In this instance, China meets of most of the markers, but what can’t be ignored is that Beijing extracts involuntary labour from arbitrarily chosen Tibetans.

Article 5 of the UDHR says, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, but in China-ruled TAR, torture is commonplace.

Articles 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 refer to the right to recognition before the law, equality before the law, and right to remedy. They also ask for presumption of innocence, but insofar as the delivery of justice in TAR is concerned, China is extremely biased and arbitrary.

As such, these articles are currently not maintainable anywhere in China, let alone Tibet.

Article 9 of the UDHR says no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile, but this is far from applicable in TAR.

Article 12 of the UDHR says no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

In Chinese-ruled Tibet, there is the practice of forced resettlement. The treatment of the Dalai Lama certainly falls under attacks upon honour and reputation. Heightened surveillance in the region constitutes interference with privacy.

Article 13 of the UDHR says, everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country, but China’s two-tiered passport system severely restricts freedom of movement for Tibetans and other religious minorities.

Indeed, the Dalai Lama himself has stated that the Chinese government has barred him from re-entering his home.

Article 14 of the UDHR says everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, but in TAR, this right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes.

Finally, Article 15 of the UDHR says everyone has the right to a nationality, but Tibetans are Chinese nationals. (ANI)