Catholic News Agency

Rubio blasts 'blatant violations of human rights' in Tibet

Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has condemend "blatant human rights violations" in China after the province of Tibet passed policies similar to those used in Xinjiang to oppress Uighur Muslims. 

According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese Government announced that, as of May 1, new policies to “strengthen ethnic unity” will go into effect in Tibet. 

The full text of the new regulations was not released. The Chinese government described them as a list of “dos and don’ts” that local governments should enforce in order to create “ethnic unity.” 

Tibet is an autonomous region in China. It is home to the Tibetan people, most of whom practice Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) destroyed many Buddhist temples during the Cultural Revolution. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, fled Tibet and currently lives in India. 

On Jan. 13, Sen. Rubio tweeted that “the international community can’t turn a blind eye” to the development, and that “Tibet’s CCP-controlled Congress” was “following Xinjiang’s footsteps.” 

On Tuesday, Rubio told CNA that it was “no surprise that Tibet’s ‘autonomous’ legislature has passed rules to promote ‘ethnic unity’.”

“As the Chinese Communist Party continues its attempts to wipe out Tibetan culture, the U.S. and freedom loving nations should condemn the blatant violations of human rights,” the senator said.

Per Chinese media, these regulations require all facets of society, from villages to large companies, schools, military organizations and religious groups, to promote work on “ethnic unity.” September will be deemed a special ethnic unity month, with a focus on activities to strengthen “ethnic unity” within Tibet. 

A government official was quoted in the state-run Tibet.cn saying,“Tibet has entered a new era of long-term development with peace and stability” and that “These regulations are to consolidate the practices and achievements in building harmonious ethnic relationships and to establish a model for all of the people and industries in Tibet.”

The deputy secretary general of the standing committee of the Tibetan legislature, speaking to Tibet.cn, described the new policies as ones meant to “unify the sense of community of the Chinese nation.”

These rules come about four years after different regulations aimed at “ethnic unity” were introduced in Xinjiang, and about four and a half years after Chinese President Xi Jinping cited ethnic unity in Tibet as crucial for the “sustainable, long-term and comprehensive stability of the society.” 

Since the push for “ethnic unity” began in Xinjiang, the Chinese government has opened a network of over 1,200 detention camps, which house approximately one million political prisoners–mostly Uighur Muslims. China purports that these camps are for the prevention of terrorism and for vocational skill training. A leaked manual from the camps detailed the “re-education” techniques the Uighur population would be subjected to in the camps, and included “ideological education.” 

In the section labeled “Ideological education,” camp personnel are instructed to “Effectively resolve ideological contradictions, and guide students from bad emotions.” Prisoners are repeatedly referred to as “students” throughout the manual. 

“Actively organize and concentrate on activities such as presentations, form a healthy and inspirational atmosphere, promote repentance and confession of the students for them to understand deeply the illegal, criminal, and dangerous nature of their past behavior,” says the manual. 

For prisoners who “harbor vague understandings, negative attitudes, or feelings of resistance,” the manual instructs workers to “carry out education transformation” that will “ensure that results are achieved.” 

China initially denied there was a system of camps before finally copping to their existence in 2018.

In addition to the camps, Uighurs have alleged numerous human rights abuses, including organ harvesting and forced marriages. In the fall of 2019, reports emerged that Uighur women were forced to marry Han Chinese men, who belong to a different ethnic and religious group. Han Chinese is the largest ethnic group in China. The groups rarely inter-marry. 

The Chinese government has been promoting videos, websites, and events seeking to pressure Uighur women to marry Han men. The government also offered a cash reward to an inter-ethnic married couple. 

Uighur women interviewed by human rights workers say that it is understood that if they do not marry a Han man, they or their families will be sent to a detention camp.

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