The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has called on China to “live up to its commitments to protect the rights of minorities, including those of Tibetans” and admitted that “serious systemic violations of human rights” in Tibet had been reported to the UN.
Ms. Pillay also spoke of an “increasing exclusion of ethnic minorities from a top-down policy of economic development of the western portion of the country,” but stopped short of identifying specific cases or allegations of human rights abuses. She also refused to say whether she would seek permission to visit Tibet from Chinese authorities. Her predecessor, Mrs. Louise Arbour, did seek permission to see the situation in Tibet for herself in the wake of the 2008 protests but was refused access by China.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, was responding to a request for her comments on the situation in Tibet by a French journalist, Mr. Jean-Claude Buhrer-Solal, an author and former Le Monde correspondent on U.N. and human rights issues.
The full text of the High Commissioner’s comments follows:
July 24, 2009
“While recognizing that Tibet is an integral part of China, China needs to live up to its commitments to protect the rights of minorities, including those of Tibetans. These are reflected in China’s Constitution and the international treaties it has ratified. China’s own law provides formal guarantees and minority protections for ethnic groups, as well as elements of self-governance. However, serious systemic violations of human rights are reported to be taking place at the same time as increasing exclusion of ethnic minorities from a top-down policy of economic development of the western portion of the country.”
“Detentions and arrests have continued in Tibet since the events that occurred in March 2008. It is important the government ensures that those have been detained are treated with due process and that independent actors are given access in order to assess conditions on the ground.”
“China is scheduled to appear before the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in August this year. Its conclusions will be an important examination of China’s commitment to the protection of minority rights, including in Tibet.”
Additional comment by OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville:
The former High Commissioner Louise Arbour requested an invitation to visit China including the Tibetan areas in mid-April 2008, but unfortunately this was declined on the grounds of timing. OHCHR hopes that China considers outstanding requests for invitations by Special Procedures mandate holders. Various UN Special Rapporteurs have continued to express concern about reports of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment of detainees by the security forces, and failure to ensure fair trials. China comes up periodically before various UN treaty bodies – including, for example, the 41st Session of the Committee Against Torture last November.
 News originally published by UN Watch.