HRC 44th Session: Item 3 Statement Delivered on Tibetan Environmental Defenders

10 July 2020 – The following is the statement delivered at the 44th session of the HRC in Geneva, by TAC Coordinator Gloria Montgomery. 

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Madam President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for his report and for the special attention drawn to the situation facing environmental human rights defenders.

Environmental defenders have witnessed increased attacks globally, including in Tibet where Tibetans shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of climate change and environmental harm. They are also among the least empowered to exercise their rights to information, free expression and peaceful association and assembly in relation to environmental matters. Tibetans who have stood up for their right to a healthy environment and sustainable future have faced arrest and prolonged prison sentences by the Chinese authorities. Among them is A-Nya Sengra, a Tibetan nomad and environmental defender who has been in detention since 4 September 2018 after he campaigned against illegal mining and the illegal hunting and poaching of endangered animals in Tibet [1].

A-Nya is currently serving a seven years prison sentence for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “gathering people to disturb public order”, despite the fact that he has committed no crime – and despite calls by five Special Rapporteurs for China to lift charges against him. [2] We urge the Council to call on China to uphold its legal obligations, cease reprisals against environmental defenders, and immediately release A-Nya and other Tibetan environmental activists who linger behind bars for asserting their rights and protecting their environment.

Thank you, Madam President.

  1. International Tibet Network, Sham trial against Tibetan A-Nya Sengdra exposes China’s continued crackdown in Tibet, 6 December 2019: https://tibetnetwork.org/tibetan-nomad-and-environment-activist-sentenced-to-seven-years-in-prison/
  2. UN experts urge China to drop charges against jailed Tibetan minority human rights defender, 19 May 2020, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25894&LangID=E