GENEVA (19 May 2020) – UN human rights experts* have called on China to lift charges against a Tibetan minority human rights defender who is awaiting an appeal hearing against a seven-year jail sentence imposed on disturbing public order charges.
“We are deeply concerned by what appears to be the criminalisation of the legitimate work of a minority community member and human rights defender. We are also concerned about the reports of deterioration of his physical and mental integrity due to poor detention conditions,” said the experts.
A-Nya Sengdra had been campaigning against alleged corruption, illegal mining and illegal hunting and poaching of endangered animals before he was arrested and allegedly beaten on 4 September 2018 in Qinghai province.
The human rights defender was sentenced on 6 December last year after being found guilty on charges of “gathering people to disturb public order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Other Tibetan minority representatives from Qinghai province were also charged and given similar jail terms.
Sengdra’s appeal court hearing was postponed last month and is now expected anytime soon.
“The charges against Mr Sengdra stem from a wider crackdown on Tibetan minority human rights defenders. They constitute violations of Mr Sengdra’s right as a member of a minority community to exercise his human rights without discrimination or intimidation, including his freedom of expression,” the experts said.
“We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including by lifting the charges against Mr Sengdra. The human rights of the Tibetan minority must be fully respected.”
The experts have sought information from the Chinese Government.
*The UN experts: Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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