Tibet's Human Rights Issues Raised at Ongoing UNHRC Session

Mr Tenzin Samphel Kayta (1st L) speaks on behalf of Society for Threatened Peoples at the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

China’s human rights violations in Tibet and the recent crackdown of Tibetan intellectuals were raised at the 15th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, which opened on Monday.

Tenzin Samphel Kayta of Society for Threatened Peoples briefed the council about Karma Samdrup, a prominent Tibetan environmentalist, who was sentenced for 15 years on charges of grave robbing and dealing in looted antiquities. Kayta spoke of how Samdrup was "severely tortured by the police during several months of interrogation and the court's dismissal of his testimony as irrelevant".

Supporters say Karma Samdrup is being silenced for speaking out against the detention of his two brothers, who accused local officials of poaching. Kayta informed the Council that six family members of Samdrup were arrested and sentenced within a span of one year.

Calling for an "end to harassment against human rights defenders and Tibetan intellectuals in Tibet," Kayta urged the Chinese Government to implement the recommendation put forward by the UNHRC High Commissioner, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Committee Against Torture.

Kayta told VOA Tibetan service that he was interrupted by the Chinese delegates at the Council when making his statement, but that only helped draw more attention from other delegates and NGO participants on the pressing issues.

More than 50 Tibetan cultural figures are believed to be detained, disappeared, tortured or harassed since the 2008 protests. That figure is according to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, a rights watchdog group, which says Tibetan intellectuals are facing their harshest crackdown since the Cultural Revolution in 1976.

Some information for this report was provided by Tibetnet and ICT