March 20, 2014
In March 2014, UNPO has submitted three alternative reports in relation with the 52nd session of the CESCR, denouncing violation of the economic, social, and cultural rights of minority groups and indigenous peoples in China, Indonesia, and Ukraine.
UNPO has submitted three alternative reports in relation with the 52nd session of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) regarding the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Indonesia, and Ukraine. All of these three States have signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Culture Rights (ICESCR) and their adherence to such covenant will be reviewed by the CESCR in May 2014. The Committee will formulate final recommendations for the respective States on the basis of reports compiled by the State under review but also by NGOs. UNPO has taken this opportunity to advocate for the economic, social, and cultural rights of the marginalized minorities that live within these three countries. The full reports can be accessed by clicking on the link under “Attached Documents” on the right.
The report on the People’s Republic of China focuses on three minority groups whose economic, social, and cultural rights are severely violated: the Uyghurs, Inner Mongolians, and Tibetans. While these groups live in territories that have been officially labelled “autonomous regions” by the Chinese government, they continue to suffer from discrimination and repression. These groups face significant restrictions to their right to religion, education, and culture. For example, the use of local languages is increasingly restricted in schools. Even worse, these restrictions occur in a context of poverty and lack of access to adequate housing and health care facilities. Given these issues, the report urges the Chinese government to, among others:
-Put an end to criminal punishments for those exercising their right to freedom of religion;
-End the forced eviction programs of nomads;
-Put an end to the discriminatory practices that are widespread when it comes to education and employment opportunities.
Similarly, the report on the Republic of Indonesia also focuses on three regions inhabited by indigenous communities: Aceh, South Moluccas, and West Papua. These minorities share a history of denial of self-determination and of opposition to Indonesia’s unitary tendencies. In today’s Indonesia they are deprived from their traditional means of subsistence through land-grabbing practices which allocate customary lands for industrial projects that do not benefit the local communities. This economic exploitation is accompanied by the lack of adequate employment opportunities, as these are taken by non-indigenous Indonesians moved to minority areas through transmigration programs. Discrimination also occurs along religious lines, especially in the case of the mainly Christian West Papuans and South Moluccans. Additionally, Indonesian minorities suffer from poverty, lack of adequate housing, health care services, and education possibilities. On the basis of these findings, the report formulates a series of recommendations to be considered by the Indonesian government, among which:
- Stop land-grabbing practices which deprive indigenous peoples of their means of subsistence and ensure that the development of industrial projects in indigenous areas brings sustainable benefits for indigenous inhabitants
-Stop the use of practices that deny equal employment opportunities to members of indigenous and minority communities and improve their conditions of work
-Address the significant disparity in health, living standards, and educational opportunities between regions populated by minorities and majorities.
Lastly, the report on Ukraine addresses violations of economic, social and cultural rights of the Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatars have suffered deportation from Crimea, during which many died of hunger and diseases. Although they are now allowed to return to their homeland, the returnees face many obstacles, as Ukrainian authorities refuse to facilitate the restoration of the Crimean Tatars’ rights, including access to employment, adequate housing, healthcare facilities and education in Crimean language. Furthermore, other ethnic groups openly express intolerance towards Crimean Tatars. The depth of social divisions and perceived injustices in Crimea is demonstrated by increasing incidences of hate speech, vandalism of religious sites and violent clashes between ethnic groups. Based on the issues faced by the Crimean Tatars, the report gives recommendations to be considered by the Ukrainian government, including:
- Create an effective legal framework to restore the rights of returnees deported on ethnic grounds
- Support and preserve the development of minority cultures, as well as ensure an equal access for all minority communities to financial and administrative resources for the implementation of cultural activities;
- Investigate and prosecute incidents of inter-ethnic and religious hatred and vandalism of religious sites as well as improve the capacity of police officers to react and combat appropriately such cases.