UN member states must protect civil society to defend universal human rights: TCHRD

Tenzin Dawa, a researcher from TCHRD and Tsering Tsomo, the Executive Director of TCHRD.

DHARAMSALA, 9 Dec: Tibetan rights group urges the UN member-states to defend universal human rights by protecting civil society voices ahead of the world human rights day.

“On the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy(TCHRD) calls on the UN member-states to defend universal human rights by protecting civil society expressions,” the Dharamsala-based rights group stated in its press release.

TCHRD said that while civil society voices are under attack in many places around the world at large while the suppression of civil society by the government of the People’s republic of China(PRC) has entailed mass surveillance, complete restriction of communication channels, harassment, and intimidation of human rights activists and informants.

“This clampdown has caused countless human rights in Tibet to go unreported,” the statement read.

Additionally, the organisation noted that in recent years, the PRC under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping has sought to influence critical human rights institutions by isolating civil society organisations from human rights mechanisms.

“This paves way for the other governments to block essential voices, the PRC is ushering in a new era wherein civil society is silenced and human rights systems us corrupted.”

Tsering Tsomo, the Executive Director of TCHRD spoke on the significance of civil society and said, “the 71 years of UDHR bears testimony that a free, diverse and pluralistic civil society is indispensable for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental Freedoms.”

The UN also shares the concern raised by the Tibetan rights group about the shrinking space for the civil society.

“According space to civil society is not optional,” TCHRD quoted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as saying in its statement.

To compel Beijing and like-minded governments to respect, promote and protect a free, diverse and pluralistic civil society, TCHRD has delivered an appeal letter raising the said concern to the embassies of 135 UN member-states in the India capital earlier this month from 4-6 Dec. A copy of the letter was also submitted to the office of the  Ministry of External Affairs of India.

When asked about the effectiveness of submitting such letters, Tenzin Dawa, a researcher from the Dharamsala-based rights group replied in affirmative.

“Appeal letters are important and it yields results. Case in point, officials from Canada informed us of them raising the issues and concerns we listed in a letter we submitted to them ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China,” she said.

As China usually dismisses human rights issues as domestic matters and the international criticism over it as challenging Beijing’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Tsoma said that, “ regardless, when a UN member state fails to adhere to its commitments under international law,  the global community is responsible for protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons affected.

We hope that the anniversary of the UDHR reminds the international community of the importance of human rights mechanisms and of its ability to compel Beijing and like-minded governments to respect civil society, a voice for human rights.

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