September 18, 2009
Below is an article published by the Tibetan Review :
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, has cited “discrimination and the failure to protect minority rights” among the factors that had led to the recent violent events in Chinese ruled Eastern Turkestan and Tibet. Pillay made the comment in an “update report” to the 12th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Geneva, on Sep 15 morning. She called lack of democracy a major factor contributing to rights violations.
“I followed with concern the recent disturbances in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and those previously in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and surrounding areas. While condemning such violence and urging the Chinese authorities to respect human rights in upholding the law, I also encourage them to reflect on the underlying causes of such incidents, which include discrimination and the failure to protect minority rights,” Pillay was quoted as saying.
Pillay dealt with the plight of Uyghurs and Tibetans in the ‘scourge of discrimination’ section of her statement.
Mr. Li Baodong, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, accused the High Commissioner was “ignoring facts”. He wanted Ms Pillay to agree with his government’s still unproven position that the events in the two occupied regions were “serious violent and criminal acts instigated and organized by hostile and separatist forces” and were not caused by his government’s ethnic policy.
Li has maintained that the events in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet had nothing to do with human rights and deplored the move by the High Commissioner for allegedly “choosing to ignore facts and pointing fingers at many sovereign States.”
But Ms. Pillay’s statement came three weeks after the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) had urged China to find out the “root causes” of the protests which erupted across the Tibetan Plateau in 2008 and in Eastern Turkestan in July this year and recommended that China “carefully consider the root causes of such events, including inter-ethnic violence, and the reasons why the situation escalated.”
As regards the issue of sovereignty of states versus human rights raised by the Chinese, Ms. Pillay said States have the power – and responsibility – to prevent, protect against, and redress human rights violations. She said those suffering from the deprivation of human rights and other concerned states and bodies look to the Council for guidance and support and must not be disappointed.
Pillay called the lack of democracy a particular cause for concern when it comes to respecting human rights. She said, “Clearly, no human rights defender is safe when democratic institutions of governance are inadequate and unaccountable, when the rule of law remains an aspiration rather than a reality, and when corruption, co-option, or coercion hold sway.”
The 12th session of the Human Rights Council takes place from Sep 14 Oct 2 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.