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Australia joins other UN member states to criticise China’s Human Rights Abuses

Australia Tibet Council 5 mins read

The Victims of the Chinese Communist Party say “It is important that these questions are asked of China – it is more important that we continue to demand answers and the end to China’s human rights abuses.”

The Victims of the Chinese Communist Party say “It is important that these questions are asked of China – it is more important that we continue to demand answers and the end to China’s human rights abuses.”

In Geneva, Switzerland, on 23 January 2023 – China fronted the UN’s Human Rights Council for their Universal Periodic Review – this is a process where UN member states can raise questions on China’s human rights record.

The Chinese Government  faced a grilling of their human rights record at the United Nations, Chinese representatives doubled down on their denial of years’ worth of UN-vetted evidence pointing to a long list of human rights abuses, from a general crackdown on human rights defenders in mainland China and Hong Kong to accusations of crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and the cultural assimilation of Tibetans.

At this review, the Australian Government Raised the following questions:


· China stated in paragraph seven of its 2013 National Report and paragraph 14 of its 2018 National Report that China was continuing efforts to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In its last UPR, China accepted recommendations to ratify the ICCPR by the earliest possible date. What date has China set for ratification of the ICCPR?

· Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people. We urge all countries that carry out capital punishment to cease executions and to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view to abolition. We urge all countries that retain the death penalty to increase transparency around its application by releasing comprehensive and disaggregated statistics on their use of the death penalty and death penalty eligible offences. China states in paragraph 38 of its 2018 National Report that it abolished the death penalty for nine more crimes. Will China publish national statistics on death penalty sentences and executions, including information on gender, location, ethnicity and other relevant characteristics?

· China stated in paragraph 39 of its 2023 National Report that it was “committed to giving the people a sense of fairness and justice in every judicial case… and preventing torture and coercion of confessions”. Australia is deeply concerned about the increasing prevalence of arbitrary detention in China, including through the use of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL), and the use of techniques and processes to secure confessions and the denial of access to legal counsel during RSDL. How will the practice of RSDL, including denial of access to legal counsel and the extraction of coerced confessions, change in light of paragraph 39?

· Australia remains deeply concerned about ongoing restrictions on religious freedom, freedom of movement and the suppression of linguistic freedoms in Xinjiang and Tibet. Australia is deeply concerned about reports detailing China’s assimilationist policies, including forced labour transfer programs and the coerced separation of Tibetan children from their families through state-run boarding schools. What is China doing to address these concerns and will China allow meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang and Tibet for independent human rights observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures mandate holders?

· China stated in paragraph 16 of its 2023 National Report that it “actively protects citizens’ freedom of association”. Australia is a strong supporter of freedom of expression, including through a vibrant civil society, independent media, and robust institutions underpinned by the rule of law. How is China ensuring that lawyers, activists, journalists and human rights defenders are protected from harassment, mistreatment and discrimination and that those detained for merely exercising their constitutional rights are released without delay?

· China stated in paragraph 16 of its 2023 National Report that “the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China provides legal safeguards for the activities for foreign non-governmental organizations in China”. What steps is China taking to reduce restrictions, including those put in place through the Foreign NGO laws, on domestic and international NGOs in China, in order to allow them to play a full and active role in promoting and protecting the full range of human rights in China and Hong Kong (including but not limited to LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights and disability rights)?

The Alliance of the Victims of the Chinese Communist Party, which includes Chinese human rights activists, Uyghur and Tibetan human rights groups, as well as other affected peoples such as Taiwanese and Hong Kong, welcome this statement. However, we won't stop until there is really change across China.

“We are happy that the Australian Government’s recent focus on improving the economic relationship with China has not resulted in them backing away from these important human rights issues,” says Dr Zoe Bedford, Executive Officer of the Australia Tibet Council. “However this is not the end, we must continue to demand answers from China and take action if China continues to their systemic human rights abuses."

Watch: Review of China - 45th Session of Universal Periodic Review

Ms Ramila Chanisheff, President of the Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Association, says "We have not seen any change to the situation of the Uyghurs, but more intense oppression and abuses. The Chinese propaganda to deny its crimes has intensified, but the truth remains, Uyghurs are still facing ethnic cleansing".

“Only last week we received heartbreaking news from Tibet” continued Dr Zoe Bedford “A Tibetan University student named Tsedon has died while in Chinese policy custody. Tsedon was arrested by Chinese authorities of Nyemo County on December 26, 2023. She was arrested for trying to teach Tibetan children their language and culture – which Tibetan children are denied in China. Following her arrest, Tsedon’s family members were informed of her death in a hospital in Nyemo County on January 15, 2024. They suspect that she had been beaten and tortured in prison. This is the tragic result of China’s antiquated assimilationist policies, which are resulting in a Tibetan Stolen Generation.”

Even Australians suffer under the effects of China’s arbitrary arrests, unfair judicial system and lack of freedoms of expression, association and movement. Professor Chongyi Feng President of the Australia-New Zealand Regional Alliance for Victims of Chinese Communist Regime says “Innocent Australian citizen Dr Yang Hengjun has been subjected to arbitrary detention and torture in China for 5 years and he is critically ill. We demand for his immediate release.”

Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute and Representative of Tibet Advocacy Coalition said: "China thinks it can get away with atrocity crimes, including holding one million Tibetan children in a coercive residential school system designed to stamp out their identity, but today’s UN review shows governments are willing to hold Beijing accountable.

The dramatic increase in the number of UN Member States who spoke out for Tibet at China’s review speaks to the existential threat China’s assimilationist policies pose to the Tibetan people."

"Tibetans in Australia and across the world live-streamed the proceedings and watched Australia make their recommendations. "It means a lot to Tibetan Australians; my family is directly impacted by China's Human Rights violations and the separation of children from their families in Tibet", says one Tibetan Australian community member in Australia (who can not be named for safety concerns).

China needs to answer the questions that the Australian Government, NGOs and the UN have put to them about their human rights abuses. This 4th UPR for China has shown an increase in countries concerned and ready to speak up for those facing the Chinese Government’s oppression.

About us:

Australia Tibet Council campaigns for the freedom and human rights of Tibetans.

Contact details:

Dr Zoë Bedford
Executive Officer, Australia Tibet Council
Ph: 0408 262 576

Ms Ramila Chanisheff
President, Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Assoc. (AUTWA)
Ph: +61 0402 531 706

Professor Chongyi Feng
President, the Australian and New Zealand Alliance for Victims of the Chinese Communist Regime
Ph: 0417676389

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