HONG KONG: Its been more than 50 years since China established complete control over Tibet and in this period China has institutionalised a system of two policies - one for the Chinese people and another for the Tibetans.
Hong Kong based Tibet watchers who on the condition of not being identified for fear of Chinese reprisal outlined a series of instances which prove that China has treated Tibet as nothing more than a Colony and as a strategic buffer against India.
Experts point to the fact that China has accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a member of the United Nations.
The declaration forms the basic charter of rights for all global citizens. However over the past many decades, adherence to the UDHR has been minimal at best as far as Tibet is concerned.
When it comes to Tibet and Tibetans, they count for less than an average Han Chinese citizen, and actually don’t enjoy the rights they are entitled to as per international laws.
The UDHR calls on governments to grant every human being these rights, but the reality is that not one of the UDHR rights is extended to the people of Tibet.
For example Article 16 of the UDHR says that men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to create a family. They are also entitled to equal rights as when to marry, how to manage their marriage, and to decide when to dissolve it.
The family, according to the UDHR, is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
But, when comes to Tibet, since 1980, China has passed a series of measures related to marriage laws. Beijing has stopped the practice of polygamy in TAR, and has been actively promoting the mixed marriages between Tibetans and Han Chinese.
The local administration has reportedly announced offers of special treatment to children born of such unions. Such incentives are publicised heavily by the state media.
Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser says that “authorities use it as a tool”, and compared it to the Japanese police being encouraged to marry local women during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan.
On the issue of owning property, the UDHR says no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or property, but in China-dominated TAR seizure of farmland for industry is arbitrary and common.
Joel Brinkley of the Chicago Tribune adds that “China has evicted more than 400,000 Tibetans from their homelands” over the past few years, and believes that the intent behind this is to exploit Tibet’s vast mineral and water resources.
The UDHR’s Article 18 talks about the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, but evidence has surfaced of the People’s Armed Police firing on unarmed Tibetan protestors calling for a semblance of religious freedom.
During the Cultural Revolution, most, if not all, Tibetan monasteries (97 percent were actually closed down) were reportedly ransacked by the Communist Party.
Currently, every monastery and nunnery is constantly under surveillance and subject to random checks by Communist Party officials. So-called Monastery Management Committees have been set up in increasing numbers to keep check on the activities of monks and nuns, and to control their numbers, particularly in the largest ones of Drepung, Sera and Ganden.
Such checks extend to night raids for images of the Dalai Lama and other such “subversive” objects.
For example, recently, a 13-year old nun, after participating in a peaceful protest, was held, interrogated, beaten and tortured.
She was sentenced for singing nationalist songs – which does not exactly exemplify “freedom of thought”.
On the issue of everyone having the right to express their opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, which is enjoined in Article 19 of the UDHR, China routinely cuts off internet and phone-messaging services after each incident of self-immolation in TAR, of which there have been over 140 in the past six years.
As for the right to expression and freedom of opinion, the armed crackdowns, the surprise arrests and the extrajudicial killings are indicative of a general intolerance to such niceties.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association as enshrined in Article 20, is regularly stamped out and quickly, with violence if required.
Tibet and the Tibetan people have been compelled to identify with the People’s Republic of China. In April 2015, the Communist Party demanded that all Buddhist monasteries display the Chinese flag, or face punishment.
This latest move is part of a drive to make places of worship ‘secularised’, and in line with Beijing’s ideologues.
Article 21 of the UDHR allows every individual to take part in the government of his or her country, directly, or through freely chosen representatives, but i9n the case of China, democracy does not exist in the sense that it is understood the world over.
The political representatives of the Chinese are not freely chosen, but are designated by the Communist Party. As such, not only Tibetans, but all citizens under the authority of the People’s Republic of China have no right of participation in their governance.
Recently, China arrested ten Tibetans for protesting against the denial of welfare benefits to their community.
Tibetans have been subject to “city moats” which prevent their access to their own cities.
The ‘will of the people’ is a concept almost entirely alien to any Chinese citizen in conceptual and real terms.
The right to social security, as enshrined in Article 22 of the UDHR, which calls for realisation both through national effort and international co-operation, is used to violate the rights of Tibetans further.
Article 23 says everyone has the right to work, and to have free choice of employment, but in Chinese –ruled TAR, the resettlement policy violates this article, depriving Tibetan nomads of their free choice of employment.
As far as just conditions of work, Tibetans are forced to learn Chinese in order to access any gainful employment, even as a construction worker.
Tibetans claim that Chinese workers receive higher wages; the loss of jobs due to political activities is also very common.
Even China admits that there is no minimum wage in the TAR.
The right to rest and leisure, as well as reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay does not exist in Chinese-ruled TAR.
Here, re-education is promoted through labor camps, and there is no semblance of worker’s rights to be defended here.
Holidays, too, are out of the question, and there is no reasonable limitation on working hours.
What about the right to an adequate standard of living, as enshrined in Article 25 of the UDHR?
It simply does not exist in TAR. Pulmonary diseases are the most widespread affliction in Tibet. While prefectural and city hospitals are adequate in responding to such illnesses, there is very little recourse to proper medical care for nomadic tribes as village and township hospitals are extremely poor.
The medical system is “clearly inequitable.” Distances across Tibet have also led to Chinese healthcare works failing to immunize children as “they don’t want to travel so far.”
Access to medication is clearly segregated: Tibetan doctors are unable to purchase drugs from pharmaceutical companies, as only Chinese government workers and ‘officials with connections to the Chinese’ are given access.
While officially, China’s ‘One Child’ policy does not extend to Tibetans as a community, in practice, birth control has actively been promoted in the TAR.
Sterilisation can take place on the basis of volunteering or through forced abortions, which leaves a very chilling picture of healthcare in TAR.
Article 26 of the UDHR talks of the right to education and the right to have free education at the elementary and fundamental stages, but in TAR, schooling is compulsory until secondary education, nominally “bilingually”, and guidelines are applied arbitrarily.
The emphasis is on creating Chinese-medium schools in Tibetan areas despite the fact that Tibetan students want to be taught in Tibetan and learn more effectively when they are.
Tibet has six institutes of higher learning, but only 60 percent of those selected for university in TAR are ethnic Tibetans, compared to the 97 percent share of population they reportedly enjoy.
This demonstrates the fact that access to higher education is highly coloured by discriminatory policies. Indeed, state funds go disproportionally to schools where Chinese students predominate.
Chinese authorities in TAR are on record, as saying that the purpose of giving an education to Tibetans is to see whether they are “opposed to or turn their hearts to the Dalai Clique and in whether they are loyal to or do not care about our great motherland and the great socialist cause….”
China does not promote tolerance, but actively seeks to destroy it in TAR.
The right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community as enjoined in the UDHR’s Article 27, is absent in TAR. The Chinese, admittedly, are very happy to impose limits on Tibetan intellectual production.
Insofar as duties to the community are concerned, while keenly desired by the Tibetan people, is trounced upon, and all vestiges of rights for the minorities are virtually non-existent.
China has a long history of using the justifications of human rights and economic prosperity “for all” to oppress those in Tibet, and nothing seems likely to change.
The recently concluded 6th Tibet Work Forum on August 24 and 25 did not offer any guarantees for the future, but harped instead on the need to maintain stability, a buzzword to Tibetans that they can expect an even harsher regime ahead.