New Delhi: In a shocking revelation, it has been found out that the Chinese government is pursuing a Xinjiang-style system of forced labour in Tibet, a region which, though suffering from suppression, until now has not been subjected to such atrocities.
A report, co-published by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) and international news agency Reuters on a research conducted by its ethnic minority adviser, Professor Adrian Zenz-one of the world’s leading experts on the situation facing minorities in the People’s Republic of China-has suggested a large scale ‘Xinjiang-style’ program of forced labour in Tibet.
Ipac is an international, cross-party alliance of parliamentarians from democratic countries focused on relations with China, and specifically, the Chinese Communist Party. Ipac’s members subscribe to the principles of democratic states maintaining the integrity of their political systems, actively seeking to preserve a marketplace of ideas free from distortion.
Zenz, in his research, has detailed the existence of a large-scale mandatory “vocational training” programme and forcible labour transfer scheme in Tibet, enlisting over half a million labourers over the first seven months of 2020. The programme is overseen by strict military style management and includes enforced indoctrination and intrusive surveillance of participants, bearing close similarities to the system of coercive vocational training and labour transfer established in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
This report is the latest in a mounting body of evidence documenting egregious human rights abuses in Tibet, where the situation surrounding religious freedoms, systemic political persecution and forced cultural assimilation of the indigenous Tibetan people has been deteriorating for decades, said Ipac.
The research explains how in 2019 and 2020, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) introduced new policies to promote the systematic, centralized, and large-scale training and transfer of “rural surplus labourers” to other parts of the TAR, as well as to other provinces of China. This scheme encompasses Tibetans of all ages, covers the entire region, and is distinct from the coercive vocational training of secondary students and young adults reported by exile Tibetans. The labour transfer policy mandates that pastoralists and farmers are to be subjected to centralized “military style” vocational training, which aims to reform “backward thinking” and includes training in “work discipline”, law and the Chinese language. It is supervised by People’s Armed Police drill sergeants.
Zenz mentions about 543,000 rural surplus laborers being trained by TAR in the first seven months of this year thus accomplishing 90.5 per cent of its annual goal by July. The central terminology employed for the labor transfer process is identical with language used in Xinjiang: “unified matching, unified organizing, unified management, unified sending off” with the workers being transferred to their destinations in a centralized, “group-style”, “point-to-point” fashion. They “left-behind” children, wives and elderly family members are to receive the state’s “loving care”.
In response to these revelations, the international group of lawmakers called for targeted Magnitsky-style sanctions upon those responsible and for governments to revise risk advice to businesses currently sourcing from Tibet and other affected areas to prevent the use of forced labor in supply chains, among other actions.
“Following on from the global outcry in the wake of revelations of ‘vocational training’ programs in the Uyghur Region, this report shows that the current leadership of the People’s Republic of China remains undeterred in its refusal to respect basic human rights standards, and unswayed by criticism from the international community, including from the United Nations, in which China claims a leading role,” Ipac said in a statement today.
The alliance also demanded reciprocal access to Tibet in order to conduct an independent international investigation into the situation, urging the Secretary General of the United Nations to install a Special Rapporteur to investigate forced labour and ethnic persecution in China.
“We stand united in unequivocal condemnation of these practices and call upon the Chinese government to halt these atrocities immediately,” the body said.
Ipac members all over the world have made it clear that there can be no ‘business as usual’ with China while human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang continue.