“The police went to the house of a Tibetan community leader to arrest him. When they found he was not home, they dragged his son out of the house, into the courtyard and held a gun in his mouth. The boy was only about 12 or 13. He looked so frightened.” Eyewitness account, Drango county, Tibet, January 2012
There can be no normal childhood in an abnormal society.
The children of Tibet face all the challenges of life under occupation, and in many cases are full participants in the struggle to resist it.
That means they are also victims of the systematic and ever-present abuse of human rights in Tibet.
The rights of Tibetan children
Life under oppressive Chinese rule, even for those who have never known anything else, is an unbearable burden for many of Tibet’s young people – but restrictions on the flow of information mean that the immense challenges they face have never been properly documented – until now.
As the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) prepares to review China’s compliance with its commitments on human rights for young people next year, Free Tibet and Tibet Watch have submitted a comprehensive and damning joint report to the committee documenting the reality for children growing up under military occupation.
The report, based on detailed and authoritative research by Tibet Watch, details:
- Children beaten, shot, imprisoned and killed for standing up for their rights
- Children orphaned, threatened and assaulted because their families resist the occupation
- Children denied the right to learn their language and culture, and “educated” to be second-class citizens in their own country
- Children defying the authorities by demonstrating, sharing information, and even burning themselves to death
- The 6 year old Tibetan boy who became the world’s youngest political prisoner
Protests in Tibet
Over two-thirds of those who have self-immolated in Tibet are younger than 25.
Eight children, Tibetans under 18 years of age, have set themselves on fire in protest.
Four are confirmed dead*.
The whereabouts of the survivors, taken from the scene of their protests by security forces, are currently unknown.
United Nations and China
UN processes are the only mechanisms for holding China to account on its human rights record.
The Committee has the power to demand answers from China to specific questions and will consider and respond to information submitted by independent experts. China’s compliance with its obligations will initially be considered in a working group next February, before formal review at a meeting currently expected in May.
What you can do
Growing up under China’s occupation: the plight of Tibet’s children.
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*Figures correct at the time of writing
Banner photo: Pedro Saraiva