August 22, 2022 (AFI Report): In pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 42/10, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Tomoya Obokata, has recently released a report dated July 19, 2022 where he identified forced labour in Tibet, similar to those that exist in East Turkestan.
The report states that the extensive labour transfer programme in Tibet has shifted mainly farmers, herders and other rural workers into low-skilled and low-paid employment.
According to the report, two distinct “state-mandated” systems of forced labour exists in East Turkestan and Tibet. They are 1) “the vocational skills education and training centre system, under which minorities are detained and subjected to work placements; 2) the poverty alleviation through labour transfer system, where surplus rural labourers are transferred into secondary or tertiary sector work”.
The report says that in many cases, the work rendered by affected communities have been involuntary and calls for an independent investigation into the forced labour programme in Tibet and East Turkestan. It further states “given the nature and extent of powers exercised over affected workers during forced labour, including excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment, some instances may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis”.
Welcoming the report, Kelsang Aukatsang, President of Asia Freedom Institute said, “the report of Special Rapporteur Tomoya Obokata corroborates what human rights organizations, experts and others have been saying about forced and bonded labor in East Turkistan, Tibet and minority areas of China. Under the guise of the “vocational skills education and training centre system and poverty alleviation through labour transfer system”, Uyghurs, Tibetans and minorities in China have had their basic rights and freedom taken away from them.”
The UN Special Rapporteur Tomoya Obokata will present his report at the upcoming Fifty-first session of Human Rights Council scheduled to be held from 12 September – 7 October 2022.