For 30 days, without any food, three Tibetans Shingza Rinpoche, Dorjee Gyalpo and Yeshi Tenzing spent their days at Ralph Bunche Park across the street from the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The three Tibetans on hunger strike appealed the United Nations to immediately send a fact finding delegation; to pressure China to allow international media in Tibet; stop undeclared martial law and so called “patriotic re-education” campaign in Tibet and release of all Tibetan political prisoners.
The three patriots became very weak physically over the course of the campaign but they never wavered from their decision to either die or get a response from the UN on their appeals.
On March 12th and 20th day of hunger strike, Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary General (ASG) for Human Rights visited the hunger strikers expressing deep concern for their health. On the same day, he formally met in his office with Tsewang Rigzin, President of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) where he was presented in detail the dire situation in occupied Tibet resulting in numerous self-immolations mostly by Buddhist monks and nuns. ASG assured that he will inform the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay about the meeting.
On March 14th, answering a question during the daily press briefing, Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Well, what I can tell is the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, met a representative of Tibetan Youth Congress on Monday 12 March. He said he would convey the group’s concerns to the relevant Special Rapporteur and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, in line with established procedure in handling human rights matters. The ASG also met on Monday with the Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN. Mr Simonovic has briefed the Executive Office of the Secretary-General on these meetings. The Secretary-General affirms the right of all people to peaceful protest. He is, however, very concerned about the health of the hunger striking protestors”.
Today, Mr. Parfait Onanga, representative of UN Secretary General and Mr. Richard Bennett, representative of UN Human Rights accompanied by their assistants visited the hunger strikers this afternoon to hand a letter on behalf of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and signed by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay.
The letter acknowledges the petition submitted by Tibetan Youth Congress at the beginning of the hunger strike campaign and also the meetings between Mr. Ivan Simonovic, UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights and the hunger strikers.
The letter further states that “On behalf of the Secretary General, I wish to bring to your attention that the Human Rights Mechanisms of the UN are actively engaged on your concerns”. And that a number of UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council have sent several of joint urgent appeals to the Government of China, expressing concern over specific cases in Tibet involving violations relating to their mandates.
Ms Pillay said, “Some Special Procedures Mandate Holders have also sent requests to visit China, and these are pending a response from the Government”. She added that she has written to the Government of China to express not only her concern over the situation but will continue to engage with them and urged the hunger strikers to conclude the hunger strike.
And hence, with all the developments above, TYC is calling off this Indefinite Fast for Tibet indefinitely. We will continue to monitor UN’s role in occupied Tibet and if and when necessary continue our campaign again.