Matthieu Ricard’s letter to Kofi Annan April 26, 1998
To H.E. the Secretary General Kofi Annan
If the Declaration of Human Rights is universal, please don't exclude Tibet. If it is not universal, just say so.
At Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights Commission has discussed all day long for several weeks arbitrary detentions, limitations of freedom and other gross violations of human rights that happen in Nigeria, Sudan, Kossovo and other places.
The member countries decided not to speak about the tragic violations of human rights in Tibet. This is an utterly dismaying example of double standards. Are Tibetans less human beings than others?
The USA and European countries said that China's record on human rights has improved. Four thousand five hundred death penalties have been carried out in a year and millions of people still toil in laogai labor camps. The release of a few high profile dissidents is too small a patch to cover so much suffering.
If the Chinese occupation of Tibet is legitimate, why should they be so upset about discussing the matter at the UN? If it is illegitimate, isn't the role of the UN to bring justice?
Mary Robinson, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, said that she will raise the issue of Tibet when she visits China next fall. Hoping to soften a totalitarian regime is a fine ambition but many have tried in vain.
The real issue is that the United Nations should examine the status of Tibet in the light of the UN charter and according to International Law. Comforting words to a dying nation are but a meager sustenance.
Matthieu Ricard, Ph-D
Knight of the French National Order of Merit
P.O. Box 136, Kathmandu, Nepal
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