Swiss-Tibetans demonstrating against Chinese government suppression of freedom in Tibet in Geneva, June 24, 2022. Photo: CTA

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Geneva — “Despite our repeated calls to take conservative action to help protect the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and hold China accountable for its atrocities, the situation in Tibet has deteriorated significantly. Tibetan culture and identity are endangered due to systematic repression,” said Karma Choekyi, while protesting against China's repression of freedom in Tibet.

The Tibetan community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein staged a demonstration on June 24, 2022 to protest against China's continued repression of basic freedoms in Tibet, despite heavy rain and gusty winds. The protests organised in order to gain attention of human rights violations in Tibet by Chinese government, during the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is taking right now at the UN Office at Geneva, from June 13 to July 8, 2022.

The public gathering was followed by the singing of the Tibetan national anthem. The community members then observed a minute of silence in remembrance of all Tibetan martyrs. Members of the community raised slogans against the Chinese government's repression in Tibet, while holding "Free Tibet" placards and the Tibetan national flag, including the following slogans: “ Tibet belongs to Tibetans, Free Tibet, China is lying, Tibet is burning, China lies, people dies”.

The President of the Tibetan Community, Karma Choekyi addressed the gathering and said, “Despite our repeated calls to take conservative action to help protect the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and hold China accountable for its atrocities, the situation in Tibet has deteriorated significantly. Tibetan culture and identity are endangered due to systematic repression of Chinese government.”

“The misuse of public offices for whatever reasons does not do good for anyone. Specially at the cost of those who continued to risk, to speak against the heinous violations of human rights by China. Had the visit to China been undertaken meaningfully, it would have renewed new hope and ignited the right message for victims of rights, abuses by China and beyond,” she added.

Tibet is subject to stricter restrictions than other parts of China. Choekyi highlighted reports that stated that Tibet is ranked the least free region to live in the world for the second consecutive year. She also mentioned Tibetans in Tibet have been subjected to tighter restrictions on their rights to assembly, association and freedom of expression, religion, language and movement. For example, the use of the Tibetan language was summarised in the research paper, entitled “China's bilingual education policy in Tibet,” released in March 2020. The paper details how access to education in Tibetan communities is increasingly under threat.

“In Tibet today, Tibetan language textbooks are being replaced by Chinese textbooks. They are creating a situation where younger Tibetans may go up without the knowledge of their mother tongue,” said Passang Dolma, Vice President of Swiss-Tibetan Women Organisation.

On behalf of the Tibet Bureau Geneva, UN advocacy officer Kalden Tsomo, Jacque Arnal, a representative from the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association, and Tsering Gonpa, from Tibetan Youth association in Europe also addressed the gathering.

"The UN Human Rights Office received an appeal letter on Tibet from Karma Choekyi and Kalden Tsomo. The community also expressed its deep dissatisfaction with the outcome of the recent visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to China. Because Tibetan culture and identity are still under threat, systematic political repression, state-led policies of forced assimilation, economic marginalisation and social discrimination have led to a cycle of unrest in Tibet, including self-immolation protests," the Tibetan community said in the press release read by its vice-chairman, Tenzin Wangdue.

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