Washington, DC — The Government of the United States of America released its annual report on human rights around the world on Friday, raised a wide range of human rights violations in Tibet. China engaged in “severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of the Tibetan population,” says the report, published by the U.S. State Department.
The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, released on March 3, 2017 said these rights included ” the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement” and that these were curtailed “under the professed objectives of controlling border areas, maintaining social stability, combating separatism, and extracting natural resources.” The report further said, China “routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the “Dalai [Lama] clique” and “other outside forces” for instigating instability.”
Corroborating reports about the Chinese authorities increasing their clampdown in Tibet, the report said China “strictly controlled information about, and access to, the TAR and some key Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine fully the scope of human rights problems.”
The report said, “The Chinese government severely restricted free travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas. In addition, the Chinese government harassed or detained Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to provide information to persons abroad, or communicated information regarding protests or other expressions of discontent through cell phones, e-mail, or the internet. The few visits to the TAR by diplomats and journalists that were allowed were tightly controlled by local authorities. Because of these restrictions, many of the incidents and cases mentioned in this report could not be verified independently.”
In response to questions on access to Tibet during this confirmation process by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Tillerson stated “Should I be confirmed, I commit to assessing what should be the best policy, recognizing that reciprocity in treatment is a principal in bilateral relations.”
Referring to the marginalization of Tibetans, the report said, “Economic and social exclusion was a major source of discontent among a varied cross section of Tibetans. Some Tibetans continued to report discrimination in employment. Some Tibetans reported it was more difficult for Tibetans than ethnic Chinese to obtain permits and loans to open businesses. Restrictions on both local NGOs that received foreign funding and international NGOs that provided assistance to Tibetan communities increased during the year, resulting in a decrease of beneficial NGO programs in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”
The report also highlights the challenges faced by Tibetans in exercising their freedom of movement, including travelling outside of Tibet and China. It said, “Many Tibetans continued to report difficulties in obtaining new or renewing existing passports. Sources reported that Tibetans and other minorities had to provide far more extensive documentation than other Chinese citizens when applying for a Chinese passport. In the TAR, a scholar needs to get about seven stamps with signatures from various government offices to apply for a passport, in addition to other standard required documentation.
“For Tibetans, the passport application process could take years and frequently ended in rejection. Some Tibetans reported they were able to obtain passports only after paying substantial bribes. Tibetans continued to encounter substantial difficulties and obstacles in traveling to India for religious, educational, and other purposes. Individuals also reported instances of local authorities revoking their passports after they had returned to China.”
In his preface to the report, Secretary Rex W. Tillerson said, “Our values are our interests when it comes to human rights. The production of these reports underscores our commitment to freedom, democracy, and the human rights guaranteed to all individuals around the world.”
The first human rights report to be published by the Trump US Administration, says “Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial detentions, disappearances, and torture. Many Tibetans and other observers believed that authorities systemically targeted Tibetans for political repression, economic marginalization, and cultural assimilation, as well as educational and employment discrimination.”
China “strictly controlled information about, and access to, the TAR and some key Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine fully the scope of human rights problems. The Chinese government severely restricted free travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas. In addition, the Chinese government harassed or detained Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to provide information to persons abroad, or communicated information regarding protests or other expressions of discontent through cell phones, e-mail, or the internet,” the report said.
“Police and prison authorities employed torture and degrading treatment in dealing with some detainees and prisoners. There were many reports during the year that Chinese officials severely beat, even to the point of death, some Tibetans who were incarcerated or otherwise in custody,” the report says while condemning “Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Treatment by the Chinese government.
“Policies promoting planned urban economic growth, rapid infrastructure development, the influx of non-Tibetans to traditionally Tibetan areas, expansion of the tourism industry, forced resettlement of nomads and farmers, and the weakening of both Tibetan language education in public schools and religious education in monasteries continued to disrupt traditional living patterns and customs,” the US report said.
The report added that “Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese are official languages in the TAR, and both languages appeared on some, but not all, public and commercial signs. Inside official buildings and businesses, including banks, post offices, and hospitals, signage in Tibetan was frequently lacking, and in many instances forms and documents were available only in Mandarin. Mandarin was used for most official communications and was the predominant language of instruction in public schools in many Tibetan areas. Private printing businesses in Chengdu needed special government approval to print in the Tibetan language.”
“Repression and coercion” of those involved in civil and political rights remains “severe,” in China, the report says. It adds that tens of thousands of political prisoners remained incarcerated despite the government’s denial it holds any. Other serious human rights abuses included arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life, executions without due process, illegal detentions at “black jails,” torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and detention and harassment of journalists, lawyers, dissidents and petitioners.
“The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures (TAPs) and counties in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Gansu Provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee oversees Tibet policies,” it said.
Basic freedoms of expression and association are on the decline around the world, the United States said in a report that warned of worsening conditions for opposition groups and human rights activists. But Human rights groups and US lawmakers decried that decision and said it raised concerns that the U.S. was backing away from its traditionally vocal advocacy on human rights.
“As in other predominantly minority areas of the PRC, ethnic Chinese CCP members held the overwhelming majority of top party, government, police, and military positions in the TAR and other Tibetan areas,’ the report says, adding: “Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP Central Committee and its seven-member Standing Committee in Beijing, neither of which has any Tibetan members.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a letter to Congress about the report, did not address any specific human rights concerns, but said promoting rights and democracy is “a core element of U.S. foreign policy.”
“These values form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies,” Tillerson wrote. “Standing up for human rights and democracy is not just a moral imperative but is in the best interests of the United States in making the world more stable and secure.”
Corruption, use of torture and discrimination against minorities have gotten worse in some parts of the world, the report said. It laid out concerns about sexual abuse of women, growing crackdowns on the media and internet freedom, suppression of political opposition groups and the inability of people to choose their own governments.
The US Department noted serious “human rights problems” in North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Turkey and a host of other nations — including many with close economic and military ties to Washington. As it does annually, the review, known as the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” cited political executions, media oppression and other tyrannical activities occurring around the world.
But US media reports say the low-profile manner in which the State Department chose to present this year’s assessment — the first since President Trump took office — has drawn swift fire from critics, who say Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the new administration as a whole have missed a key chance to take a public stand on human rights.
Sen. Marco Rubio chastised Mr. Tillerson on Twitter for failing to personally unveil the review to reporters — something previous Republican and Democrat secretaries of state have gone out of their way to do with the goal of drawing as much media attention to the document as possible.
“For 1st time in a long time @StateDept #humanrights report will not be presented by Secretary of State. I hope they reconsider,” Mr. Rubio tweeted Thursday, before the release of the review.
The Florida Republican tempered his criticism Friday, saying on Facebook that while he was “disappointed that the secretary of state did not personally present the latest report, this report remains a critical tool for the U.S. to shed light on foreign governments’ failure to respect the fundamental human rights of their citizens.”