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Tibetan Rights and Culture Must be Respected


Tenzin Delek Rinpoche SFT

U.S. asks others to join in "encouraging the Chinese government to live up to its international obligations to respect Tibetans’ distinct culture, identity, and fundamental human rights.”

Speaking at a panel on the sidelines of the 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Sarah Sewall called on members of the Council to “join the United States in encouraging the Chinese government to live up to its international obligations to respect Tibetans’ distinct culture, identity, and fundamental human rights.”

Special Coordinator Sewall spoke of the barriers and challenges facing the Tibetan people. Citing the State Department’s human rights report on Tibet, she noted that the Chinese government “engaged in the severe repression of Tibet’s religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of China’s ethnic Tibetan population, including the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement.”

In response to the international community’s concern over the Chinese government’s actions in Tibet, China has responded with additional tightening of its already strict controls on Tibetans’ fundamental freedoms. Chinese authorities have also taken actions to denigrate the Dalai Lama, whose views, said Dr. Sewall, “are widely reflected within Tibetan society,” and who, the U.S. believes, “can be a constructive partner for China in addressing continuing tensions in Tibetan areas.”

The United States has consistently urged the Chinese government to uphold its international commitments to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, specifically by ending the harassment, detention, and other mistreatment of individuals who seek to peacefully practice their religion, express their views or seek legal redress. The United States, Dr. Sewall said, “call[s] on Chinese authorities to release [Tibetan Buddhist teacher] Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and other prisoners of conscience, and to allow [Tibetan filmmaker] Dhondup Wangchen to be reunited with his family.”

“Like any people,” said U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Sewall, “Tibetans have an inalienable right to be stewards of their unique cultural, religious and linguistic heritage. They have a right to do so without interference, in peace and with dignity.”

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