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Racial Discrimination in Chinese-Occupied Tibet

[Department of Information and International Relations. Tibetan Government-in- Exile. Dharamsala - 176215. INDIA. July, 2001.]


We are honored to submit this Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("Committee"). Our Report provides additional information to facilitate the Committee's evaluation of China's compliance with the CERD with regard to Tibet. In the Report, we emphasize the special circumstances that render Tibetans particularly susceptible and sensitive to racial discrimination.

We urge the Committee to review the evidence of violations of Tibetan rights in the context of China's illegal invasion of Tibet in 1949, its division of historical Tibetan territory, and China's failure to accord the Tibetans their right to self-determination. We will, throughout this Report, also place racial discrimination against the Tibetan people in the contexts of violations of Tibetans' human rights generally.

The Chinese occupation of Tibet is illegal under international law because Tibet was an independent nation when Chinese troops invaded. Extensive study by legal scholars, including the International Commission of Jurists, supports the conclusion that Tibet was a sovereign nation when it was invaded by China in 1949 and that the entry of China's armed forces into Tibet was an act of aggression under international law.

When we refer to Tibet, we mean the Tibetan provinces of Kham, Amdo and U-Tsang. The Chinese authorities have divided Tibet into the Tibetan Autonomous Region ("TAR") (about 40 percent of historical Tibet) and a number of Tibetan prefectures that have been subsumed into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu. China's division of traditional Tibet is in itself a major international law violation. We also point out that, because China's invasion was illegal, all provisions of humanitarian law, including those relating specifically to racial discrimination, are in force in Chinese-occupied Tibet. The application of humanitarian law in Tibet underscores our sense of gravity of the violations carried out by China in Tibet, including the division of the Tibetan territory.

The Tibetan people also have a right to self-determination. By self-determination, we mean the collective right of a people to determine freely their own political status and to pursue their own economic, social and cultural development. The Tibetans are a "people," with a common history, racial and ethnic identity, distinct culture and language, definable territory and common economic ties, in terms of the right to self-determination. Moreover, the General Assembly has not retreated from its recognition that the Tibetan people have a right to self-determination.

China's occupation of Tibet and its failure to honor the Tibetan people's right to self-determination are the root cause of the racial discrimination against the Tibetan people that we report on here. We recognize that the principle of self-determination is widely considered a preemptory norm of jus cogens. Accordingly, we urge the Committee to give full legal weight to the principle of self-determination as it considers the evidence of gross violations of the Convention by China against the Tibetan people.


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