A Generation in Peril: The Lives of Tibetan Children Under Chinese Rule

To the Government of the People's Republic of China:


-Immediately take steps to ensure full respect for Tibetan children's rights as recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant provisions of international human rights treaties and customary law, including respect for the Tibetan people's right to self-determination.

Children and the Legal System:

Legal Reform:

-Immediately enact comprehensive legislation to implement domestically the full scope of China's obligations as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

-Undertake a comprehensive review of China's criminal law to bring it into conformity with the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and other international human rights standards.

-Abolish all forms of administrative detention without charge, including 'reeducation through labor,' under which children may be sentenced to labor camps for up to three years without judicial oversight.

-Amend China's Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law to incorporate explicitly the definition of torture established by the U.N. Convention Against Torture, to which China is a party, and clearly ban all forms of torture.

-Withdraw China's reservation to articles 21 and 22 of the Convention Against Torture, and recognize the competence of the Committee Against Torture to receive and investigate allegations of torture against Tibetan children.

Due Process:

-Ensure prompt and impartial review of any deprivation of a child's liberty.

-Provide any Tibetan child detained with immediate access to their parents or legal guardians and to legal counsel, as well as to interpreters where needed.

-For any Tibetan child detained, provide separate and appropriate facilities that are specifically designed to meet their educational, health and developmental needs.

-Under no circumstances should children be detained in military barracks, PSB detention centers, 'reeducation through labor' camps or adult prisons. Undertake an immediate review of all places of detention to ensure that no children are currently confined illegally.

-Ensure that all officials understand and conform their conduct to the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Beijing Rules. Promptly and vigorously prosecute any violations.

-Devote funds to the education and training of all officials - including police, soldiers, guards and prosecutorial or judicial personnel - who may have contact with Tibetan children. Seek and permit foreign and non-governmental organizations to support such training.

Conditions in Detention:

-Immediately cease detaining Tibetan children for political and arbitrary reasons and release all children so detained, including Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

-Immediately cease the illegal practice of administrative detention, the most common form of detention for Tibetan children in China.

-Develop and enforce specific rules to ensure that any detention of Tibetan children is used solely as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

-Develop alternatives to detention, such as release under parental supervision, probation and parole. Ensure that in all cases children are released under conditions that guarantee their safety.

-Provide any Tibetan child detained with adequate food, drinking water, bedding, clothing, sanitary facilities and medical treatment.

-Tibetan children should not be detained with adults other than family members, friends and other close relations or guardians. Under no circumstances should Tibetan children be held with adult strangers and common criminals.

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

-Immediately cease all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment perpetrated against Tibetan children.

-Immediately cease requiring Tibetan children to perform labor in detention.

-Pursuant to clear rules and procedures, ensure prompt and vigorous investigation, prosecution and punishment of police, soldiers, legal or judicial personnel and any other individuals implicated in the torture of Tibetan children.

-Undertake an immediate review of all detention facilities to confiscate torture implements, such as cattle prods and other electrical shock devices.

-Take immediate steps to end the practice of subjecting Tibetan children to corporal punishment in schools.

-Ensure that all teachers receive training in appropriate forms of and the limited occasions for school discipline, which must be 'administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity.'

-In schools attended by Chinese and Tibetan students, ensure that teachers do not administer discipline in a manner that discriminates against Tibetan children.

-Except in highly exceptional circumstances in which a child is alleged to have committed a crime that clearly requires intervention by state security personnel, school discipline should never involve the PSB or other state security forces.


Legal reform:

-Abolish the practice of charging miscellaneous fees or tuition of any kind for a primary school education.

Access to Education:

-If miscellaneous fees continue to be charged, waive these fees for all children unable to afford them. Immediately investigate schools at all levels to eliminate the practice of charging illegal miscellaneous fees.

-Allocate central government funding for schools equitably between urban and rural regions of Tibet. Ensure that all Tibetan children enjoy equal access to quality primary schools with adequate facilities and well-trained instructors. For Tibetan children living in remote regions, provide additional monies to facilitate their transportation to primary school. In sparsely-populated areas, provide support for the establishment of local Tibetan boarding schools for middle and high school education.

-Permit Tibetan parents to send their children abroad for education and to visit their children at foreign schools without penalty.

-Ensure that access to secondary, vocational and higher educational institutions is based strictly on merit and objective standards that do not discriminate between Tibetan and Chinese children. If entrance exams will continue to determine the access of children in Tibet to secondary and higher education, Tibetan children should be permitted to take these exams in the Tibetan language. Investigate whether improper influences, motives and practices - such as government or political party connections, bribery and ethnic discrimination - are systematically affecting the admissions processes for higher education.

-Provide vocational programs and counseling to augment opportunities for Tibetan youths who may otherwise face unemployment.

Medium of Instruction and Curriculum:

-Respect the Tibetan people's fundamental right to control the content of the curriculum and the medium of instruction in their children's schools.

-Ensure that all children in Tibet receive instruction from the outset and throughout their education in the Tibetan language, including its grammar and written forms. Consistent with this, institute and enforce a general policy to ensure that Tibetan is the primary language used for all occupations and higher education in Tibet.

-In the short-term, ensure that all Tibetan children also receive instruction in any second language (for example, Chinese and/or English) that they require to enjoy equal access to the full range of academic and employment opportunities in Tibet.

-Ensure that all Tibetan children receive instruction that provides them with a full and accurate understanding of Tibetan history, culture, language and traditions.

-Immediately end all strictures that forbid Tibetan children from expressing their Tibetan identity by, for instance, singing Tibetan songs, wearing Tibetan clothes, celebrating Tibetan holidays and expressing their religious and political beliefs freely. Tibetan children should never be required to swear loyalty to the Chinese state nor to pledge allegiance to any specific political or national ideology.

-Cease closing or taking over the management of private schools that provide Tibetan children with an education in their own language, culture, history and traditions. Permit foreign organizations, private individuals, and religious teachers to establish and operate such schools without undue state interference.

-Expand the current curriculum at Tibet's primary schools, which appears to be limited in most cases to the Tibetan and Chinese languages and mathematics, to include Tibetan history, culture and traditions, as well as education in science and extracurricular activities such as music and sports.


-Immediately end all practices that have the purpose or effect of discriminating against Tibetan school children. Ensure that they receive equal facilities, access to instruction (classroom hours and size), food, accommodations and school supplies.

-Immediately investigate and punish all acts of discrimination against Tibetan children by primary school teachers or other administrative staff.

-Ensure that all teachers in Tibetan schools receive full salary and benefits as a means to recruit higher quality teachers and to discourage teachers from demanding bribes, child labor and other 'gifts' from their students.

-Take immediate steps to protect Tibetan children from violence in schools, particularly attacks motivated by ethnic discrimination.


Legal Reform:

-Immediately repeal family planning laws intended to limit the size of the Tibetan population. These laws serve no legitimate purpose in Tibet, which has one of the most sparse populations in the world.

-Immediately repeal all laws that discriminate against 'unauthorized' children - those born in violation of current family planning quotas - by depriving them of the rights that all children should receive on an equal basis, particularly in the areas of healthcare and education.

Access to and Quality of Healthcare:

-Give high priority to expanding the availability of quality healthcare facilities and treatment for Tibetan children in rural regions.

-Allocate central government funds to establish and operate hospitals and clinics in rural regions of Tibet. Ensure that staff at these institutions are competent, well-trained and supplied with all medicines and equipment necessary to provide the best available healthcare to Tibetan children.

-Establish and promote smaller clinics at the village level to provide basic medical care in more remote areas of Tibet. Ensure that each of these clinics has available at least one vehicle for transferring a child to a hospital in emergency situations.

-Continue to encourage and support traditional Tibetan medicine. Explore ways to combine Western allopathic medicine and Tibetan medicine to maximize the quality of preventative healthcare and treatment for existing conditions available to Tibetan children.

-Provide all Tibetan children with free access to essential medical care, including childhood immunizations and treatment for infectious diseases. Eliminate the requirement that Tibetans provide 'security deposits' before receiving treatment for conditions that require immediate attention. Emergency and other essential medical care should be provided without regard for children's ability to pay.

-Direct efforts to control the major diseases that affect Tibetan children, including tuberculosis, diarrheal illnesses, hepatitis, rickets, hydatid disease and iodine-deficiency disorder.

-Take steps to ensure that healthcare workers charged with administering China's immunization program travel to all areas of Tibet to carry out their duties.

-Ensure that physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers at hospitals and clinics in Tibet speak Tibetan.

-Ensure that clean needles are available for use at all hospitals and medical clinics.

Health Education:

-Disseminate basic health education throughout Tibet. All Tibetans should have access to health education about preventative healthcare, means to stop the spread of infectious disease and sound sanitation practices. Also develop a mother and infant nutrition program to ensure adequate nutrition and nutritional education for pregnant women and mothers of young children.

-To avoid a potential HIV epidemic, take steps to ensure that populations at risk, such as those involved in prostitution, receive the education and provisions necessary to avoid contracting or spreading AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Women's Reproductive Rights and Children's Health:

-Immediately cease coercive practices in connection with China's family planning laws. In particular, ensure that no Tibetan women are subjected to coerced or forced abortions and sterilizations.


-Take immediate steps to combat the causes of pervasive growth stunting among Tibetan children as identified by recent studies. In particular, take steps to avert malnutrition and common childhood illnesses in Tibetan children from birth to seven years of age.

-Undertake a thorough investigation and review of taxation and market-regulation policies in Tibet to ensure that they never effectively deprive Tibetan families of the money, goods or food needed to meet their children's nutritional needs.

-Investigate ways of ensuring that China's salt-iodization program reaches all Tibetans without disrupting the traditional salt-farming practices upon which some Tibetan nomads rely to augment their food supply.

-Take steps to eliminate the pollution of water supplies and to ensure that all Tibetan children have access to clean drinking water. Where a natural source of clean drinking water is not readily available, devote resources to providing an alternate drinking supply or fuel that can be used to boil water.

To Donor Governments, Non-Governmental Organizations and International Humanitarian Institutions -->