The Geneva Forum 2019, hosted by the Tibetan government in exile, documents that CCP’s perversity is also exported abroad. Tortured witnesses brought the audience to tears.
by Marco Respinti
China is the most technologically surveilled country in the world and in history. Tibetans, one of the main targets of CCP’s persecution, have decided to call the attention of the free world on this human rights tragedy. They did it at the Geneva Forum 2019 on human rights, organized by the Department of Information & International Relations of the Geneva Office of Tibet (OOT) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), i.e., the Tibetan government in exile at Dharamshala, India, under the title China’s High-Tech Repression and Freedom of Religion.
Held at the Geneva Centre International de Conférences on November 14 and 15, the Forum was in its second annual edition, and had already a tradition of success. The location is in fact perfect, as Geneva is the second most important United Nations seat after New York.
A message of greetings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurated the conference. Two guests of honor opened and closed the works: Mr. Carlo Sommaruga, member of the National Council of the Swiss Federal Assembly (the lower house of the Parliament) for the Socialist Party, and Mr. Robert Cramer, member of the Swiss Council of States (the upper house) for the Green, as well as co-president of Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet.
Dr. Libsang Sangay, Sikyong of the CTA, i.e. regent of the Tibetan government in exile, graciously chaired the conference, never losing an occasion to call, firmly and mildly at the same time, the Chinese communist regime in to account for its misdeeds. He also asked the international community to stand by the Tibetans and the other ethnic minorities and religious communities that suffer unjustly for the CCP’s merciless repression. Introducing and complimenting each of the speakers with signs of peace, benevolence and friendship, as is typical of the cultural and religious tradition of Tibet, Dr. Sangay saluted the event as the sparkle of a renewed national consciousness in the year which marks the 60th anniversary of the bloody annihilation of Tibetan freedom.
Repression, intrusion, and maneuvers
Among the distinguished participants were Mr. Karma Choeying, Secretary of International Relations of the Department of Information and International Relations, CTA; Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, former Envoy of the Dalai Lama; Ms. Thinlay Chukki, Special Appointee for Human Rights of the Office of Tibet in Geneva; Mr. Tashi Phuntsok, representative of the Dalai Lama in Brussels; Mr. Sonam Frasi, representative of the Dalai Lama in the London, UK, OOT; and Mr. Bhuchung K. Tsering, Vice President of International Campaign for Tibet.
Mr. Tenzin Dhala, a research fellow on Chinese cyber security policy at the Tibet Policy Institute, was among those who illustrated the capillary intrusion of CCP surveillance systems in the lives of Chinese citizens. Mr. Filip Jirouš of Sinopsis ‒ a not-for-profit project that monitors the impact of China on the international scene in co-operation with the Department of Sinology at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic ‒ raised the delicate point of the control that the Chinese regime is trying to exert in different foreign countries through a variety of means. This concern was also shared by Dr. Chien-Yuan Tseng, chairman of the Board of the New School for Democracy and municipal consultant to the city of Taipei, Taiwan, who illustrated the subtle ways through which the CCP is trying to infiltrate the island where he lives.
The same topic of China’s foreign outreach was mentioned by Col. Vinayak Bhat, a retired Indian servicemen and political analyst. He reminded the audience that Beijing is even selling its monitoring and controlling technology abroad, often to illiberal regimes. Part of Col. Bhat’s presentation was effectively devoted to show satellite images of the transformation through education camps where thousands of Uyghurs and other Turkic people are detained, the systematic destruction of Muslim cemeteries, as well as the reshaping of Buddhist monasteries into detention facilities for monks.
Furthermore, a vibrant denunciation of the tricks that the CCP-led regime of China currently uses to block any real condemnation and water down any effective reaction of the international community at UN level was given by Ms. Hilary L. Miller of UN Watch, Geneva, who gladly accepted to have her presentation published in Bitter Winter.
Edward Chin, Hong Kong human rights activist and organizer of the Monitor 2047 HK group, shared his impressions and feelings on the highly critical historical moment that Hong Kong is now suffering, condemning the brutality of world.
Mr. Mikuláš Peksa, Member of the European Parliament for the Czech Pirate Party (a liberal/libertarian group) mentioned the interest that the whole question of Chinese high-tech surveillance both at home and abroad is creating at last in some quarters of Brussels. Garnett Genuis, a Conservative member of the Canadian Parliament and co-chair of the Canadian parliamentary friends of Tibet, added emphasis on the need for the international political community to open its eyes. Mr. Genuis was a leader in trying to have the Canadian Parliament pass a bill preventing Canadians to access the Chinese transplantation industry, arguing that it relies on organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.
This horrific topic in fact emerged several times during the conference in connection to the DNA profiling policy that China is conducting on its citizens, when Ms. Annie Yang, a Falun Gong practitioner, took the floor. The Falun Gong movement has been the designated victim of human harvesting, suffering thousands and thousands of losses, but today the same practice is sadly targeting also members of The Church of the Almighty God, Uyghurs, other Turkic Muslim minorities, and possibly also Tibetans.
Ms. Yang, who miraculously survived persecution and escaped China to relocate in London, was not the only witness of CCP persecution at the conference. Mr. Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, was another. He has been banned from China under a false accusation of terrorism, but he has also been harassed and prevented from speaking in some democratic countries, which uncritically buy every fake news that the CCP fabricates. A third, probably the most touching, account of personal persecution was given by Ms. Phuntsog Nyidron, the longest-serving Tibetan female former political prisoner who managed to escape, who, interpreted by Ms. Kalden Tsomo, UN Advocacy Officer of the Geneva OOT, told how she suffered torture and nearly escaped death while trying to find refuge abroad. The conference, which for two days was constantly filled by experts, politicians, journalists, students and sympathizers, was moved to tears by her words.
Bitter Winter was present, represented by the undersigned, who spoke during the afternoon panel of Novembers 14 and focused on the perception that the Chinese Communist regime has of religion ‒ all religion ‒ as its public enemy no. 1, in the context of the sophisticated system of repression used by the CCP.
The whole conference has been filmed by Tibet.tv, the official TV channel of the CTA, and is now available on YouTube. The final act of the Geneva Forum 2019 was the unanimous approval of a Declaration of Joint Statement that was crafted and discussed publicly by the experts to denounce the unbearable control that Beijing is imposing on the people living within the boundaries of the People’s Republic of China, directly violating their basic human rights to implement the cruelest of all repressions. Since Chinese surveillance technology and political pressure are coming to our own countries in many ways, as Sikyong Sangay said in the conclusions of the conference, today no friend of liberty and democracy can ignore the threat.