As though a major change in policy, a US State Department report does not describe Tibet as an “inalienable part of China”. Reacting to the crucial development, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), headquartered in this northern India hill station, on Thursday said this year’s report marks a victory for Tibetans, for the report’s Tibet section does not describe Tibet as an “inalienable part of China”, a departure from past reports.
This symbolic yet important gesture has been repeatedly campaigned by the CTA, and this change is welcomed by the Office of Tibet-DC, it said. The US State Department published its annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” report. Organized by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, this year’s report includes over 50,000 words detailing the US’s assessment of the deteriorating human rights in China.
Reminiscent of past briefings, by the CTA and others, the report details the ongoing human rights issues in Tibet, such as torture, arbitrary detentions, corruption of the judiciary and elections, lack of freedom of association, assembly, movement, religion, censorship, forced sterilization, and violence against indigenous peoples.
The forced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (11th Panchen Lama), Derung Tsering Dhundrup (a Tibetan scholar), and Gen Sonam (a senior manager of the Potala Palace) was highlighted, according to the CTA.
The Tibet section also mentions the Chinese Communist Party’s forced labour programme for approximately 500,000 rural Tibetans, which was noted last September.
In the China section, the report affirms the Trump Administration’s assertion that the Chinese Communist Party is conducting “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang”.
“These crimes were continuing and include the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilisation, coerced abortions and freedom of movement.” The Biden Administration’s report highlights the concerning mass surveillance of Tibetans, Uyghurs, dissidents, and religiously affiliated peoples by China’s Ministry of Public Security.
The China section details how the Chinese government installed surveillance cameras in monasteries in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas, which would allow the Chinese government to cut communication systems during “major security incidents”,
The report cites Human Right Watch’s findings that the Ministry of Public Security has been partnering with technology companies to create “mass automated voice recognition and monitoring system” that were created to help the Chinese government more easily understand Tibetan and Uyghur languages.
Fingerprints and DNA profiles and other biometric data were also being stored by the Ministry of Public Security, this practice is implemented for all Uyghurs applying for passports. The report addresses the racist discriminatory practices that deprive Tibetans, Mongolians, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minority groups of their fair right to language, education, and jobs.
The report details how the Han Chinese benefit from these racist policies, “government development programs and job provisions disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups and in some cases included the forced relocation of persons and the forced settlement of nomads”.
Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from government programs and economic growth in minority areas. As part of its emphasis on building a ‘harmonious society’ and maintaining social stability, the government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against minorities and cracked down on peaceful expressions of ethnic culture and religion.
The State Department report mentions how Chinese officials restrict NGOs that provide assistance to Tibetans as well. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan exile administration is based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
Before the 1950s Tibet was largely isolated from the rest of the world. It constituted a unique cultural and religious community, marked by the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. Little effort was made to facilitate communication with outsiders, and economic development was minimal.
Tibet’s incorporation into the People’s Republic of China began in 1950 and has remained a highly charged and controversial issue, both within Tibet and worldwide. Many Tibetans (especially those outside China) consider China’s action to be an invasion of a sovereign country, and the continued Chinese presence in Tibet is deemed an occupation by a foreign power.