Geneva – Volker Turk, the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said," Regarding China, the Office had opened up channels of communication with a range of actors to follow up on a variety of human rights issues, including the protection of minorities, such as for Tibetans, Uyghurs and other groups."
Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered its Annual Report and Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of his Office and recent human rights developments on March 7, 2023, at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council.
While High Commissioner Volker Turk addressed human rights issues in China, he said," Regarding China, the Office had opened up channels of communication with a range of actors to follow up on a variety of human rights issues, including the protection of minorities, such as for Tibetans, Uyghurs and other groups.
High Commissioner also expressed concern over the severe restriction of civic space and he said, ‘We also had concerns about the severe restriction of civic space more generally, including the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, and lawyers; and the impact of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.’
The High Commissioner for Human Rights' remarks came a day after a group of independent experts convened by the United Nations expressed concerns about human rights in China. The UN experts and Chinese officials held in-depth discussions at the third review of the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) on February 15-16, 2023. The UN Committee issued a report on Monday that found "discriminatory, severe, systematic, widespread and unjustified restrictions on a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights."
With regard to cultural and linguistic rights in Tibet, the UN committee expressed concern about the severe restrictions on the right of Tibetans to participate in cultural life, including the right to use and teach Tibetan language, history and culture. In addition, it highlighted the closure of Tibetan language schools, followed by a "large-scale campaign to eradicate Tibetan culture and language" through the State party's "policy of assimilation, known as Sinicization, including the boarding school system imposed on Tibetan children.
As a result, the UN committee called on China to abolish the forced boarding system and to allow the establishment of private Tibetan schools. In addition, it recommended that China take all necessary measures to ensure that Tibetans can fully exercise their right to cultural life, identity, practice and use of the Tibetan language.
Concerning freedom of religion in Tibet, the UN committee expressed concern about the increasingly strict regulation of religious practices and the systematic and massive destruction of religious sites, including monasteries, in Tibet. The committee recommended that China "take adequate measures to protect cultural diversity and the cultural practices and heritage" of Tibetans, "including the protection and restoration of religious sites.