China: ‘Vocational training’ programs for Tibetans carry risk of forced labour

Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have reportedly been ‘transferred’ from their traditional rural lives to low-skilled and low-paid employment since 2015, through a program described as voluntary, but in practice. their participation has It was reportedly coercedthey said in a statement.

‘Cultural and political indoctrination’

They noted that the labor transfer program is facilitated by a network of ‘vocational training centres’ which focus on “cultural and political indoctrination in a militarized environment”.

Participants are reportedly prevented from using the Tibetan minority languagee and discouraged from expressing their religious identityboth of which the authorities consider as obstacles to poverty alleviation.

The experts feared the program could further impoverish Tibetans and lead to them being forced to work.

No oversight mechanisms

“Tibetans are being drawn away from sustainable livelihoods in which they have traditionally had a comparative advantage, such as wool and dairy production, and into low-paid, low-skilled work in manufacturing and construction,” they said.

Tibetans are transferred directly from training centers to their new workplaces, leaving it unclear whether they are consenting to this new employment. There is no oversight to determine whether working conditions constitute forced labor,” they added.

The experts called on China to clarify the measures in place for Tibetans to opt out of vocational training and labor transfer programmes, to monitor the working conditions in their new places of employment, and to ensure respect for Tibetan religious, linguistic and cultural identity.

They have received an initial response from the Government and remain in contact with the authorities regarding these issues.

Independent rights experts

The six experts who issued the statement are all Special Rapporteurs appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Their individual mandates cover issues such as contemporary forms of slavery, dealing in persons, cultural rights and minority issues.

Special Rapporteurs and other rights experts appointed by the Council work on a voluntary basis and are independent from any government or organization. They are not UN staff and do not receive payment for their work.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo