U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet should make efforts to visit Tibet when she goes to China later this year on a still unscheduled trip announced in February, a Washington-based Tibetan advocacy group said on Thursday.
Already pressing for access to China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where over a million ethnic Muslim Uyghurs have been held in internment camps, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet should also now insist on access to Tibet, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
Authorities in the XUAR are believed to have detained up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.
“Tibet, like Xinjiang, is subject to deeply discriminatory policies and totalitarian measures of control, in religious and cultural spheres,” Kai Mueller—head of ICT’s U.N. Advocacy Team—said in a Feb. 27 statement.
“Tibet has also been the testing ground for what we are witnessing today in Xinjiang,” Mueller said.
“Access to Tibet is extremely restricted and the region cut off from independent observers, diplomats and journalists,” he noted.
“It is of utmost importance that the region is opened up for unfettered access,” Mueller added.
A tight grip
A formerly independent nation, Tibet was taken over and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago, following which Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India.
Chinese authorities now maintain a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identities, and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Of particular importance in discussions with Chinese officials during her visit, Bachelet should raise the issues of China’s violation of Tibetan religious freedoms and its jailing of advocates for the Tibetan people’s study of their native language, ICT said.
Beijing routinely denies access to U.N. officials and to foreign officials and journalists to Tibet, “a historically independent country that China annexed in 1959,” ICT noted in its statement Thursday.
“If such access is granted consistently, this would facilitate transparency and accountability and ultimately the protection of human rights,” Mueller said.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.