What are reproductive rights? Well if you ask the majority of women attending #csw61 in New York, (a back-slapping festival hosted by the United Nations Commission On The Status On Women-UNCSW), the response would focus on making available family planning education and resources. Which by extension enables a woman to determine freely when to give birth and how many children she wishes. The consequences of such provision include improved health, along with economic and social benefits for women currently denied such choices, that access to family planning. Not only that but in providing family planning to women it seems we can also tackle the major environmental issue of climate change, a topic that has been woven into the reproductive rights argument at recent UN discussions, partly as a political move to enhance the arguments being presented and as an encouragement for further support from within the environmental movement. If you had any doubts at the global impact of family planning as a supposed panacea to the world’s primary challenge be convinced by the words of Huffington Post contributor Diane MacEachern.
“Because ensuring that women have full reproductive rights creates one of the most desirable “two-fers” on the planet. Complete access to voluntary family planning is among the quickest, simplest, and most affordable ways to improve women’s quality of life. It is also one of the most direct, immediate and cost-effective ways to reduce climate change. In fact, studies show that slowing population growth by giving women access to the contraception they already want could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 8 and 15 percent — roughly equivalent to ending all tropical deforestation.” (Source: Women Leave Rio+20 Motivated to Galvanize Sustainability Around Family Planning and Reproductive Rights. 7.02.2012
It is an attractive and persuasive argument and no doubt embraced with zeal by environmentalists and feminists, yet in the clamor to press the logic and justice of such reasoning the debates at UN forums, while articulating reproductive rights consistently fail to address a hugely important element of women’s reproductive freedoms, a woman’s right to be able to determine, without coercion, the spacing and number of children. Now this right (which was formalized at the ICPD and is reflected in CEDAW) is purely theoretical for the countless millions of women who suffer China’s forced sterilizations and forced abortions, for them there are no reproductive freedoms, only a highly draconian and totalitarian system that enforces a range of coercive measures upon women to make them comply with the dictates of the state. Should financial penalties, arbitrary arrest, confiscation of property or loss of employment and housing rights fail women face the horrors of forced sterilization.
Unfortunately, as occurs regularly at the UNCSW, this gross violation of women’s human rights remains a taboo subject, marginalized,evaded and callously ignored by women’s NGOs during debates on reproductive rights. Yet without ensuring human rights are central to the provision of population control policies and practice, arguing for greater reproductive choice and services is divested of credibility and ethical authority. Yes reproductive rights are advanced by providing family planning resources and associated education programs, but they must also include the right of a woman not to be viciously assaulted by the state, denied control over her own body and suffer harrowing medical atrocities under the name of population control. Nor is it enough to claim such rights are enshrined in international statutes such as CEDAW and the ICPD while China enforces a program that so violently trashes those principles, yet the champions of reproductive freedoms offer not a word of opposition or condemnation. Informed and free choice yes, education and access to family planning by all means, but should not those who campaign on such issues be demanding those freedoms and services are extended to women suffering China’s population control policies?
Just where would politics be without those two vital elements, hypocrisy and posturing, non-existent perhaps? The 24/7 news-stream is densely populated with examples of double-standards and cosmetic posing from so-called world leaders, to such an extent that many consume such information with a fatigued resignation, a sense of powerlessness. Yet in truth we have every reason to be motivated to oppose and expose what is an endemic corruption that has made a mockery of democratic principles and human rights values. Take the case of the recent decision by member states of the United Nation’s General Assembly to agree China a place onto the Human Rights Council (UNCRC)
Will striving to promote and defend human rights truly be the core concern of China’s representatives? What of those member states, including the USA, who are effectively bank-rolled by the Chinese economy will they offer any genuine opposition or critique at the all too probable cynical maneuvering expected of China’s representatives at the UNHRC? More likely the diplomatic default will prevail in which each party operates entirely in the service of their national and economic interests,while positioning themselves publicly as being concerned about individual freedoms and rights. Meanwhile the UNHRC will continue to present itself as a defender of human rights, unless of course it impacts upon the sensitivities of its more prominent members, in such a case evasion, silence or platitudes will be served to any who demand action.
This body has a history of selectivity and avoiding issues, including of course its complete silence towards China’s forced sterilizations, along with the reported genocide waged against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan authorities. There is a curious and inevitable symmetry relating to China, Sri Lanka and the UNHRC which shall be revealed shortly, however let’s go back to 2009 and a British Parliamentary hearing in which politicians were briefed that the performance of the Human Rights Council had been “particularly dismal”, The Committee of MPs heard from Human Rights Watch that the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka was “appalling” and that the statement “completely undermined the very purpose of the Human Rights Council”. Meanwhile the Commitee’s Chair, Mr Mike Gapes MP had noted that ‘the the decision of the council to declare the conflict in Sri Lanka a domestic matter set a “very bad precedent’. SOURCE
Now Sri Lanka’s atrocities are being raised by the British Prime Minister at a meeting of nations, formerly colonized by Britain, he has presented himself as the determined leader intent on making the Sri Lankan regime accountable for the atrocities its forces inflicted. Interestingly a couple of Cameron’s private school buddies are recently returned from a trip to China, during which they were too focused on inviting Chinese investment into the UK nuclear industry and energy suppliers to barely mention human rights! The British are less cautious regarding Sri Lanka, according to a report from AFP, Cameron has given notice to Mr Rajapaksa to deliver a response on the war crimes against Tamils or the matter will be..wait for it……pressed for investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council!
“Let me be very clear, if an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the UN Human Rights Council to work with the UN Human Rights Commission and call for a full, credible and independent international inquiry.” SOURCE
There’s that classic posturing and hypocrisy in action, silent on the genocide waged by China against Tibetan culture, yet motor-mouthed on Sri-Lanka, such demands have already been rejected by the Sri Lankan authorities who are contemptuously indifferent to international opinion on the issue. Now here comes the first component of the symmetry at play. During the run-up to the United Nations vote on China gaining a seat on the Human Rights Council which country do you suppose was most actively endorsing the Chinese regime and defending its record on human rights? Why Sri Lanka of course! After all they share two disturbing characteristics, in that both wage a war of violence against the dissenting voice and have brutally suppressed people seeking freedom. The nature and extent of support offered to China by Sri Lanka at the UN was a nauseating display of sycophancy that praised the propaganda and lies of the Chinese regime, see HERE
Clearly a major ally of China’s authorities the Sri Lankan government may expect support for its loyal service and what more appropriate forum than within the United Nations Human Rights Council where it is likely to be defended by its genocidal partner, with any effort to establish a meaningful investigation into the atrocities against the Tamil people likely to be resisted by China. The last thing the Chinese regime needs is for a UN sanctioned independent examination interfering into what it sees as the ‘internal affairs’ of a state, it would be an uncomfortable precedent given China’s illegal and vicious occupation of Tibet.
What of Cameron’s objective with respect to a UN investigation, was he and his advisors aware of the mutual interests of Sri Lanka and China? Did the British government not anticipate that China would prove an impediment to progress within the Human Rights Council? Did Cameron’s foreign policy team not recall the troubling history of that body on Sri Lanka? The answer of course is a resounding YES! So what we have here is a charade, a diplomatic shadow-play where all the parties are again acutely aware of the limitations and political self-interests at play. The losers of course as ever are those whose lives have been shattered and destroyed by the tyranny of governments such as China, Sri Lanka and Britain, be they Tibetans, Tamils, Afghani or Iraqi civilians. Meanwhile the hypocritical posturing, hand-wringing and pretense continues within the Human Rights Council, an institution corrupted and bankrupt of any moral authority, not that such concerns will bother David Cameron as he prepares to kiss Chinese ass in Beijing next month.
Well are you that surprised that the UN General Assembly today voted in favor of China taking a permanent seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council? The world has observed the vomit inducing hypocrisy of that failed institution for decades, a weary resignation and sense of powerlessness has greeted the UN’s troubling record. It’s history in places such as Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo and Afghanistan is a disgraceful litany of various atrocities, including reports of sex-trafficking, rape, extortion and corruption, hardly the glittering principles it so loudly declares! Such a resumé makes it a perfect bed-fellow for China’s regime of course, whose genocidal actions have been ignored and tolerated by the UN for decades.
China’s representatives now taking their place upon the United Nations Human Rights Council, do so contemptuously indifferent, as indeed is the Organization itself to the views of world opinion, that this appointment makes a mockery of the values and ethics upon which the UN claims to be founded. In allowing China an influential, and no doubt censorial voice on the issue of human rights, however credible it was viewed as an international guardian of human rights is seriously corroded.
We should take time-out to consider again the selective and distorted focus of the UN in regard to human rights. Most particularly as they apply to women. As readers of this Blog may know each year in New York the United Nation’s Commission On The Status Of Women (UNCSW) hosts an international meeting of representatives, and facilitates a parallel event for Non-Governmental participants to address issues of equality, human rights, education, health and justice. Did however you realize that despite being fully aware of a major violation of women’s human rights there’s one subject assiduously avoided and never featured on the agenda of the UNCSW or its NGO associates?
It may seem hard to take in, after all these bodies are dedicated to human rights principles and advancing women’s freedoms and rights, but a collective silence shrouds the subject of China’s population control program and its well documented abuse of human rights and reproductive freedoms. When informed of atrocities generated by that program, which have been reported by respected organizations such as Amnesty International, the UNCSW and women’s NGOs exhibit a staggering and callous indifference. See HEREYet various groups have since the early 1990s been submitting reports, and media accounts on the abuse suffered by women in China and occupied lands such as Tibet, East Turkestan,Southern Mongolia and Manchuria, whose lives have been blighted by the horrors of forced sterilizations.
Tibettruth too has been highly active on the issue for the past few years, lobbying participants at the UNCSW, researching and publishing briefing documents and releasing a major report on coercive birth control in occupied Tibet. Many of our friends on Twitter are engaged in raising awareness of this subject and conduct an online lobby of the UNCSW, generating an international debate and questioning the silence. Appeals and research material has been sent directly to the UNCSW, prominent representatives, and key note speakers attending its annual forum, such outreach is met with an evasion and reticence that surpasses the Free Masons!
Before anyone dismisses such a claim as exaggeration consider this, the theme of the 2013 UNCSW meeting was centered on the elimination of violence against women, and many issues were given forceful and detailed examination, apart that is from China’s forced sterilizations. Leading UN agenciesissued a declarationand absent was even an oblique mention of that gross example of violence.This disturbing unwillingness to discuss what is clearly a serious violation of human rights is not restricted to the forum of the UNCSW, indeed there would seem to exist across the fabric of United Nations an institutionalized policy that ensures no mention or criticism of China’s coercive population control program and its forced sterilizations. On June 27/28 2013 The UN held a twenty year revision of the accords and progress arising from the World Conference On Human Rights held in Vienna. This review was titled ‘Advancing The Protection Of Human Rights’ and we shall come back to its shortcomings presently, however before doing so it’s important and instructive to note that the 1993 Conference while devoting considerable attention to women’s human rights, significantly failed to include any reference to violations of reproductive rights or mention of forced sterilizations:
“38. In particular, the World Conference on Human Rights stresses the importance of working towards the elimination of violence against women in public and private life, the elimination of all forms of sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking in women, the elimination of gender bias in the administration of justice and the eradication of any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism. The World Conference on Human Rights calls upon the General Assembly to adopt the draft declaration on violence against women and urges States to combat violence against women in accordance with its provisions. Violations of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict are violations of the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. All violations of this kind, including in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery, and forced pregnancy, require a particularly effective response.” Source: UN World Conference On Human Rights 1993
It’s a fairly detailed list of issues yet the UN deemed that the horrors of China’s forced sterilizations were unworthy of criticism or inclusion at a conference dedicated to human rights! This illustrates not some disappointing administrative oversight by the United Nations, nor is it reflecting a lack of awareness, it is demonstration of censorship, informed by an agenda that refuses to oppose, condemn or even acknowledge China’s population control program as constituting a violation of human rights.
Let’s return to the assembled UN delegates who gathered during June 2013 to discuss the advancement of human rights, their report also included a section on women and specifically recommendations on how to oppose violence. What issues did they consider of importance for inclusion? Well again there was the generalized platitude on eliminating all forms of violence against women followed by more specific details:
“Address the intersection of gender based discrimination, poverty, socio-economic marginalization and violence, as well as the links among trafficking in human beings, corruption, terrorism, militarism, small arms and gender-based violence…Give special attention to women and girls in all situations of vulnerability and multiple
forms of discrimination who are particularly at risk of gender-based violence….Prevent and eliminate all forms of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, and make such acts punishable in national legislation and ensure their prosecution.” Source: VIENNA+20: ADVANCING THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives 20 Years after the World ConferenceJune 27/28 2013
So there we have it two decades after the first World Conference On Human Rights chose to ignore the atrocities of China’s forced sterilizations its UN successors issued another report that made no mention of these violations. Seen in parallel with the adamantine silence of the UNCSW and associated Women’s NGOs on the subject, and mindful that highly detailed information on such abuses is available, and considering too that such organizations have been lobbied on this issue for many years, we are in the presence of mindset that refuses to accept such practices as an abuse of human rights. Given such a corruption of thinking and this callous disregard for its ethical responsibility and obligations towards human rights, the United Nations while posturing as champion of individual freedoms, and issuing platitudes on Tibet, is a suitable partner in crime with China’s regime.
During the London Olympic Ceremony as the athletes of Bhutan entered the arena, the BBC commentator declared that the Himalayan country bordered China. A similar description was given to Kyrgyzstan, when in truth that land has occupied East Turkestan on its eastern border. Always willing to promote China’s propaganda line and indifferent to the facts. it mattered little to the narrators that Bhutan is next door to occupied Tibet. Such moments remind us of the ideological war which China wages concerning its bogus claims over peoples and territories which it invaded and illegally occupies and the servile collaboration of media. Watching the parade of nations, including a Palestinian delegation, there was a sadness that Tibet was not represented relieved though by a moment of pleasure wondering what sports it would excel at, archery and wrestling spring immediately to mind, as traditional games enjoyed by Tibetans. Can you imagine the reception of the crowd on seeing Tibetan athletes, dressed in the fabulous colors and costumes of Tibet’s regions. The smiles and applause as the Snow Lion banner made its way into the arena, to take its rightful place among others national flags, it would be magical. Meanwhile, as activists voyage to the creative parts of their thinking to conceive ways to get the Tibetan flag past the layers of insane security (which pervades every aspect of the London Olympics) in order to remind the global audience of the national freedom denied to Tibet, that dream retains a powerful ability to inspire, despite China’s tyranny and propaganda. Such hopes can be realized, who for example would have thought it realistic, that a number of participating states in the opening ceremony, formerly denied their national independence by virtue of being part of the former Soviet ‘Union’ would realize their freedom and be a member of the Olympic community of nations? Yet there they were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania and Ukraine all enjoying the celebration and atmosphere under their respective flags.
The one national participant of particular interest and relevance to Tibet and its struggle is perhaps East Timor and when its athletes paraded around the stadium it was as a beacon of hope that one future occasion Tibetans too will enjoy that right and freedom. There are some important parallels between Tibet’s cause and East Timor’s struggle, most prominently a people declared their independence only to have their land invaded leading to a struggle to regain sovereignty from a dominant occupying power. Shared too was a range of injustice and suffering imposed by a foreign regime that was immensely advantaged in terms of economics and military supremacy and resources. Tibetans inside occupied Tibet experience a similar if not more vicious tyranny and have the same objectives as that attained by East Timor, which was to gain its independence in 2002. Important to note however that this was realized with far more active political support, significantly via the United Nations and the Roman Catholic lobby, than Tibet enjoys, indeed it has been asked had East Timor been a non-violent Buddhist culture would its cause have attracted the international solidarity it did. The role played by the United Nations in assisting to secure and facilitate independence for the East Timorese naturally begs the question why is it so sloth-like in supporting the Tibetan people, one key factor is of course the political magnitude and influence of China as a Security Council member within the UN, a power not enjoyed by Indonesia which eventually had to conceded to international pressure on East Timor. Yet while such real politic should not be underestimated the mechanisms and process in which the UN encouraged and supported the path to East Timor’s national freedom may well offer a more hopeful alternative objective for the Tibetan cause than accepting Chinese rule and tolerating minor improvements in autonomy, yet firmly under the grip of China.
The primary reason for UN intervention was built upon the degree and extent of violence, denial of human rights and cultural oppression which in 1974 followed Portugal’s abandonment of its colony of East Timor. A civil war erupted between various parties until the unilateral declaration of independence Ion November 28, 1975. Backed by western governments and anxious of supposed communist influence the Indonesian military invaded during December 1975 and announced East Timor as its 27th province on July 17, 1976. Critical to note that, unlike the occasion of China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950, the UN Security Council opposed the invasion and East Timor’s nominal UN status remained “non-self-governing territory under Portuguese administration.” It is a tragedy and example of the cynical indifference of powers at that time that Tibet’s fate was not afforded a similar sympathy and support.
The years of Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor was characterized by violence and brutality, with a reported 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, during which the East Timorese guerrilla force, Falintil, fought a bloody campaign against the Indonesian forces. Then in 1991 the 1991 Dili Massacre was to attract international outrage and wider support for the independence movement. Upon the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, a UN-endorsed arrangement between Indonesia and Portugal authorized a United Nations supervised popular referendum in August 1999. The result massively chose independence, which was responded to by further military action from Indonesia and its supporters within East Timor, leading to An Australian peace-keeping mission. The administration of the region was assumed by the UN through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor in October 1999. East Timorese independence was formalized on May 20, 2002 and on September 27, 2002 it became a member of the United Nations.
While the two issues have important distinctions the realization of East Timorese independence
continues to remind the world that a people can, with determination and resistance overcome a foreign tyranny, despite overwhelming military power. However, it remains debatable if East Timor would have been able to free itself from the shackles of occupation without the international support and UN intervention it eventually received. Currently Tibetans are largely ignored by the United Nations, at best they receive platitudes, or empty assurances are offered as was the response earlier this year to the Tibetan Hunger Strike outside UN Headquarters in New York. That indifference demands to be challenged and the United Nations reminded, through a forceful and unified campaign, of the catalog of human rights violations, cultural genocide and violent oppression endured by Tibet’s people for over six decades. Ban Ki Moon who was a member of the team tasked with escorting the Olympic flag during the ceremony has to consider that his organization, which actively supported East Timor’s journey to freedom has a moral and ethical duty not to ignore the plight of Tibet or rightful aspirations of its people to regain their independence. The Olympic ideal claims to represent the highest human values and principles, as does its sister organization the UN, however while Tibetans remain in chains such principles are cosmetic posturing. Can we expect anything more from such a morally bankrupt organization which in May authorized the deployment of Chinese police officers as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in East Timor!
For over six decades Tibetans have suffered such atrocities and worse as a result of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet, as you take-in the image above China’s psychopathic paramilitary are laying siege to Tibetan towns and monasteries, threatening with such torture, any who dare to protest The nature and scale of oppression, violence and suffering forced upon the Tibetan people is described most accurately as genocidal. Along with mass colonization and a program of forcible sterilizations, that has traumatized countless numbers of Tibetan women, such atrocities form what is ‘Final Solution’ that seeks to dilute, torture and assimilate Tibetan culture into oblivion.
China’s tyrannical violations have been known to western Governments and the United Nations for many years, it is time that such parties went beyond the usual platitudes and hand-wringing sympathy by holding the government of China accountable for the horrendous crimes it has committed against Tibet and its people.
This Uyghur woman became another victim of China’s forced sterilization program
“Imagine the response if just one woman was dragged from her home in Washington DC, Paris or London, beaten, tied to a medical slab and forcibly sterilised. There would be riots on the streets and rightly so! Yet such violence is a central element in China’s population program and has traumatised countless women across the communist Chinese Empire. Sadly in the time since the Beijing Conference on Women all we have had is silence, how can anyone truly committed to the rights of women claim to be concerned about human rights, yet ignore or deny the plight of women subject to this brutality? Faced with years of in-action and evasion it seems we dealing, not with an absence of evidence, but a singular lack of integrity.” Extract from the Tibettruth Submission to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. View Here
From February 27 New York City will be the destination for a large number of female activists campaigning on a range of issues from women’s human rights to social and educational issues. In addition to that major international event a NGO women’s conference will also take place at which a number of key subjects relating to women’s rights will feature, enabling NGOs to submit ideas and raise concerns with the 56th Session of United Nations Commission On The Status Of Women (UNCSW56) conference
Absent however from both these events will be any examination of the abuses suffered by women as a consequence of China’s coercive population control program. Indeed in the months of preparations for the UNCSW 56 this major human rights subject has received virtually no attention from Women’s NGOs, despite the fact such organizations are aware of the atrocities inflicted upon women across the Chinese Empire.In 2010 Tibettruth drafted and distributed a document, which was submitted to the UNCSW and Women’s organizations.
It would be extremely helpful if you would contribute to the effort to ensure this issue is not concealed and ignored by sharing this with friends and colleagues. Thank you for your continuing support and interest.