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UN calls for urgent information on the fate and whereabouts of three Tibetans detained for engaging in cultural activities

[GENEVA] Six leading UN human rights experts have written to the Chinese government raising the case of detained Tibetan musician Lhundrup Drakpa [1], Tibetan writer Lobsang Lhundrub [2] and Tibetan school teacher Rinchen Kyi [3], in a communication that just became public [4]; a push for accountability welcomed by Tibet Advocacy Coalition [5]. 

In their six page communication, which was first sent privately to the Chinese government on 17 February 2022, the UN experts expressed concern for the “physical well-being” of Lhundrup Drakpa, Lobsang Lhundrub and Rinchen Kyi, who they said were arrested and disappeared “in connection with their cultural activities in favour of the Tibetan minority language and culture.”

The six UN experts called on the Chinese authorities to provide the legal grounds of their arrest, as well as information on their fate, status and current whereabouts.

The communication also cited the “trend of repressive actions…against a larger number of Tibetans engaged in the promotion of Tibetan culture, including through education, or who are critical of the Chinese rule in Tibet” and called on the Chinese government to “adopt effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts.” 

It follows an unprecedented statement by over 50 UN experts in June 2020 calling for urgent and “decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms” of those living under Chinese rule, including in Tibet [6].

Gloria Montgomery, Coordinator of Tibet Advocacy Coalition said  “The Chinese authorities must heed calls by UN experts without further delay and immediately and unconditionally release Lhundrup Drakpa, Lobsang Lhundrub and Rinchen Kyi. It is unconscionable that an act as small as expressing sadness at the closing of a local Tibetan school, writing a book, or singing songs critical of China’s repressive policies can see Tibetans thrown behind bars and subject to enforced disappearance.” 

Pema Doma, Campaigns Manager at Students for a Free Tibet said “Beijing must immediately heed these calls by UN experts, provide information on the fate and whereabouts of those detained and end its retaliatory measures against Tibetans peacefully seeking to exercise their human rights. For too long the Chinese authorities have characterised Tibetans who are critical of China’s repressive policies in Tibet as ‘separatists’ and a threat to national security, and painted peaceful activism as a crime.”

“Top UN human rights experts have now sent an unequivocal, and long overdue, message: the routine arrest, imprisonment and enforced disappearances of Tibetans, such as Lhundrup Drakpa, Lobsang Lhundrub and Rinchen Kyi, cannot simply go unaddressed and unpunished. The Chinese authorities must immediately account for their whereabouts and release them”, said Mandie Mckewon, Executive Director at International Tibet Network.

Tenzyn Zöchbauer, Executive Director at Tibet Initiative Deutschland said, “The intervention from six UN experts sends a crucial message to the Chinese authorities that they cannot continue to act with impunity and must abide by international human rights law. These arrests are simply the latest chapter in the Chinese authorities’ relentless assault on Tibetan activists.”

Contacts:

Pema Doma, Students for a Free Tibet, pemadoma@studentsforafreetibet.org, +1 6177923606

Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network, mandie@tibetnetwork.org +44 7748158618

Gloria Montgomery, Tibet Justice Center, coalition@tibetjustice.org +44 7541362001

 

Notes to Editors:

[1] Phayul, ‘Tibetan singer sentenced to 6 years for song criticizing Chinese policies’ 30 October 2020: https://www.phayul.com/2020/10/30/44681/ 

[2] Free Tibet, ‘Tibetan writer held without trial for two years’ 21 June 2021: https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/no-information-or-fair-trial-arrested-tibetan-writer-even-two-years  

[3] Tibet Watch, ‘Teacher from forcibly closed school is arrested and charged with separatism’ 10 August 2021: https://www.tibetwatch.org/news/2021/8/10/teacher-from-forcibly-closed-school-is-arrested-and-charged-with-separatism ; Tibet Watch, ‘​​Further details emerge about Rinchen Kyi’s detention’ 20 January 2022: https://www.tibetwatch.org/news/2022/1/20/further-details-emerge-about-rinchen-kyis-detention 

[4] Mandates of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Special Rapporteur on the right to education; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=26936 

[5]  Tibet Advocacy Coalition is a project developed to increase Tibet advocacy at the United Nations. The Coalition is made up of Tibet Justice Centre, International Tibet Network, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Initiative Deutschland and Tibetan Youth Association Europe.
[6]  OHCHR, ‘UN experts call for decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China’ 26 June 2020: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2020/06/un-experts-call-decisive-measures-protect-fundamental-freedoms-china