Freemuse has requested the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed, to discuss the imprisonment of nine Tibetan singers with Chinese government.
The artists Lolo, Shawo Tashi, Pema Tinley, Chakdor and Choksal have been given sentences of between one and six years. The crimes for which they have been convicted have not been disclosed. Trinley Tsekar, arrested in November 2013, was given a sentence of nine years in December, for involvement in protests.
Achok Phulshung and Kalsang Yarphel have been in detention without trial since August 2012 and July 2013 respectively. Gongpo Tsezin was detained in November 2013.
The reasons for all these detentions have not been made public.
In the letter Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov writes:
“Freemuse believes that many Tibetan singers produce songs about issues of concern to a majority of the population. This is obviously not a crime. The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the right to participate in cultural life is enshrined in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 27 of the UDHR. Despite constitutional guarantees to protect the rights and cultures of “minority” nationalities in China, the Chinese state has undermined, dismantled and systematically attacked Tibetan culture for decades.”
The Special Rapporteur in her 2013 report “The right to artistic freedom and creativity” pointed out that
“art constitutes an important vehicle for each person, individually and in community with others, as well as groups of people, to develop and express their humanity, worldview and meanings assigned to their existence and development.”
The report also established that
“in a large number of cases, States resort to imposing restrictions authorized under international law in inappropriate or abusive ways, favouring some worldviews over others.”
Freemuse in the letter requests the Rapporteur to contact the relevant Chinese authorities and urge the Chinese government to:
- disclose the status of Achok Phulsung, Kalsang Yarphel and Gongpo Tenzin’s detentions (including their locations and the conditions in which they are being kept), disclose the reasons for their detentions and release them immediately if they have not yet been formally charged;
- disclose the locations and conditions in which Trinley Tsekar, Lolo, Shawo Tashi, Pema Tinley, Chakdor and Chokyal are imprisoned, disclose the offences for which they have been convicted, and release them immediately if those convictions violate their rights to free expression
- guarantee freedom of expression for Tibetan artists and all Tibetans;
- honour its own constitutional guarantees regarding the rights of minorities.
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