United Nations experts raised concerns over the lack of transparency and information provided by Chinese authorities regarding the fate of nine environmental human rights defenders who were arrested and imprisoned.
On August 10, the experts criticized what they believe to be a “deliberate attempt” by Chinese authorities to keep information hidden from the public eye.
“The lack of information provided by Chinese authorities could be seen as a deliberate attempt to make the world forget about these human rights defenders as they spend year after year in isolation,” the UN experts said. “Their families have been kept in the dark about their fate,” the experts said.
Between 2010 and 2019, the Tibetan human rights defenders were imprisoned “in the course of their peaceful work to protect the area’s fragile environment”, according to U.N. experts.
The imprisoned environmental human rights defenders are Anya Sengdra, Dorjee Daktal, Kelsang Choklang, Dhongye, Rinchen Namdol, Tsultrim Gonpo, Jangchup Ngodup, Sogru Abhu and Namesy.
The activists had protested against alleged illegal mining and hunting of endangered species in various regions of China, including Qinghai Province, Sichuan Province, and the Tibetan Autonomous Province.
The experts said there is “very little information available about the circumstances of their detention, trial, and sentencing, but with cases where we do have sufficient information, we know these activists were sentenced to between seven and 11 years in prison”.
They urged the Chinese government to provide detailed information about the activists’ whereabouts, health conditions, and access to medical care.
They have also called for the Chinese government to allow the families of the detained activists to have visitation access.
The panel of experts consists of Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
“At the end of July, several mandate holders sent an allegation letter to the Government of China to raise concerns about Tibetan human rights defenders being detained,” said Sophie Helle, Human Rights Officer for Ms. Lawlor, in a UN News interview.
The experts work voluntarily and independently of any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive salaries for their work.