Concerned about reports of mass arrests in Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas in China, a group of United Nations human rights experts have called for unhindered access for independent observers and journalists to those areas and full transparency on the part of the authorities. The six independent experts, who report to the UN Human Rights Council, “are deeply concerned by reports of security forces firing on protestors and alleged killings,” according to a statement issued today in Geneva. They urged China to “fully conform to its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly, and to distinguish between peaceful protestors and those committing acts of violence.” In addition, “they urge restraint and non-violence by all parties, greater and unfettered access to the regions concerned for journalists and independent observers, guarantees for the free flow of information, and full implementation of international standards in regard to the treatment of protestors and those detained, both in the People’s Republic of China and in other countries in which protests are taking place,” the statement added. The Chinese Government was called on “to lift restrictions imposed on the media, including Internet websites that limit access throughout China to information concerning the Tibetan Autonomous Region.” Information received by the experts describes the arrest on 28 and 29 March of over 570 Tibetan monks, including some children, following raids by security forces on monasteries in Ngaba County and in Dzoge County in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. According to reports, arrests were made of those suspected of participating in protests and those suspected of communicating with the exiled Tibetan communities. The statement notes that China has invited several fact-finding delegations, including one consisting of journalists and another of foreign diplomats, to visit the Tibetan Autonomous Region. However, “such visits are no substitute for granting access to those United Nations experts who have requested a visit to China.” At the same time, the experts welcomed indications from China about its “willingness to engage in further dialogue about these and other concerns.” This statement is issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston; the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo; and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall; and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Manfred Nowak, also signed the statement. 10 April 2008Concerned about reports of mass arrests in Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas in China, a group of United Nations human rights experts have called for unhindered access for independent observers and journalists to those areas and full transparency on the part of the authorities.