UN report agrees with Free Tibet findings

5th March 2012

Evidence submitted by Free Tibet is to be presented at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to the dismay of China.

A Free Tibet report, 'The right to food and access to land on the Tibetan plateau', was presented to the UN Special Rapporteur for Food on the occasion of his visit to China in December 2010.

“Serious policy failure”

Our report highlighted the plight of Tibetan nomads “required by Chinese state directives to remove both their herds and themselves from large areas of grazing land, with little prospect of ever resuming their mobile mode of production.”

This “serious policy failure” has led to nomads who are “landless, without means of subsistence, untrained in modern skills essential for entry into the modern workforce.”

Scientific flaws

Our report also called into question the scientific basis of the policy known as tuimu huancao; which states that there is a fundamental contradiction between grass and animals so you must close pastures to grow more grass.

Free Tibet called it a “grotesque oversimplification” and highlighted recent international scientific research which contradicted the theory.

UN agreement

Our findings were echoed by UN Special Rapporteur: “Food security issues for relocated or rehoused rural residents include loss of land, limited ability to keep livestock, relocation in areas unsuitable to agriculture, and generally a disruption of traditional patterns of livelihood.

“Moreover,” it continues “the theoretical foundation of the programme tuimu huancao… puts much more emphasis on the role of overgrazing than do the internationally accepted standards in grasslands science.

Suspension of resettlement

Finally, Free Tibet was keen to highlight the human face behind China’s failed policy: “Nomads cannot and therefore do not give informed consent to resettlement as they are not consulted and in some cases those who have protested official policy have been arrested and sentenced to long jail terms.”

Again, the Special Rapporteur has found similar evidence. The report makes several recommendations including calling on the Chinese Government to:

“Suspend the non-voluntary resettlement of nomadic herders from their traditional lands and the non-voluntary relocation or rehousing programmes of other rural residents, in order to allow for meaningful consultations to take place with the affected communities, permitting parties to examine all available options, including recent strategies of sustainable management of marginal pastures.”

Read the full press release