Areas of focus: China, Tibet, East Turkestan (Ch: Xinjiang), Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong

Key organizers: Office of Tibet Geneva and Human Rights Desk, Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration

About the Forum:

The Geneva Forum on Human Rights provides a unique platform for human rights experts, practitioners, academics, activists, governments, diplomats, think tanks, civil society groups and affected groups to monitor and evaluate the human rights situation in regions under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Specifically, the areas of focus include Tibet, Xinjiang, Southern Mongolia, and Hong Kong. By bringing together a diverse group of individuals, organizations and institutions, the Forum shall examine a coordinated multilateral approach to challenge and improve the CCP’s worsening human rights record. 

2019 Central Theme

The cross-cutting theme for 2019 is “China’s High-tech Repression & Freedom of Religion” AI facial recognition, biometric registration, the grid system of social management, GPS tagging, social credit system, and drones disguised as birds. This is the reality of high-tech state surveillance by the CCP, which has made Tibet the second least free country in the world and over 1 million Uyghurs detained in concentration camps.

Through the high-tech oversight mechanisms, the CCP is taking the suppression of religious worship in China to a whole new level. While China’s Constitution protects the freedom of religious belief, the CCP, which is officially atheist, has tightened its grip over religion through new surveillance technology. Evidence is mounting about potential adverse human rights impact on religious minorities in China, including Tibetan-Buddhists, Protestants, Muslims, Falun Gong practitioners and Catholics. 

What is even more worrisome is that the CCP is relentlessly exporting the digital systems, training and the technological infrastructure to other repressive regimes in places like Africa and the United Arab Emirates. The complexity, speed and much uncertainty around artificial intelligence present new, heightened risks to the future of international human rights. 

Further, the CCP’s control over the appointment of religious heads as underscored by Vatican’s recent decision to recognize the legitimacy of bishops appointed by the CCP has larger ramifications. The Beijing-Vatican deal gives the CCP the legitimacy to appoint not only Catholic bishops but also Protestant priests, Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis, Hindi priests, and Buddhist leaders (i.e. the next Dalai Lama of Tibet). 


The 2019 Geneva Forum on Human Rights aims to identify the main challenges advanced technology presents to the future of human rights. Specifically, the Forum shall examine the repression of people of faith in China in the context of the CCP’s growing use of 5.0 technologies to tighten its grip on over religion. The Forum shall, inter alia, bring together China focused human rights groups and representatives of various religious groups with the goal of setting up a coordinated multilateral approach in challenging China’s deteriorating human rights record. The Forum shall also examine the role of governments, private sectors, international organizations, and civil society groups in addressing the technological threat to human rights. 


An intensive full-day forum will be structured into four different panels, each with a specific area of focus. The panel discussion will take the form of a participatory dialogue (no speeches) on the challenges and the solutions to China’s high-tech surveillance of religious groups. There will be an eyewitness account by a Tibetan religious figure about the lack of religious freedom in Tibet. 

Panel 1: Technology and the Future of Human Rights

– Overall impact of repressive technology on human rights; i.e. the right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, etc

Panel 2: High-Tech Repression of People of Faith in China

– Tibetan-Buddhists; Protestants; Muslims; Falun Gong practitioners; and Catholics 

Panel 3: Beijing’s Export of Surveillance Technology 

– Case study of importing countries 

Panel 4: Combating Fears of a China-Led Orwellian World

– What can be done to address the problem? What are the responsibilities of governments, private sectors, civil society groups, international organizations, etc.

Expected Outcomes 

The Geneva Forum expects to build a network of organizations and experts focusing on human rights and religious freedom in China and develop coordinated efforts to challenge and improve China’s human rights record. It also expects to strengthen mainstream media attention and public discourse on the deteriorating human rights record in the most remote parts under the rule of the CCP. 


Witness account:

Phuntsok Nyidron, born in Phenpo, East of Lhasa in 1970 is one of Tibet’s longest  held female former political prisoners. At the age of 17, she joined Neu-Chung Ri Nunnery. On 14 October 1989, Phuntsok was first arrested for taking part in a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Lhasa. She was sentenced to 9-year imprisonment on charges of “Counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement against the masses” and for being a “ring-leader” of the demonstration. While in prison, in 1993, Phuntsok along with 13 other nuns recorded songs of freedom in Drapchi prison, which led to the extension of her imprisonment sentence by another eight years making her total prison term 17 years. Due to international outcry and advocacy, Phuntsok was released from prison in 2004, and later granted permission to leave for the United States for medical treatment for three months and then moved to Switzerland where she was granted political asylum. She was awarded the prestigious Reebok Human Rights Award in 1995. The award honors people around the world who have made a significant contribution to the cause of human rights against great odds. The June 4th Anniversary Committee and the China Peace also honored her for her courageous sacrifice in the field of human rights.

Panel Sessions

Topic 1: Technology and the Future of Human Rights


Hillel Neuer – Executive Director, UN Watch

Hillel Neuer, a lawyer, writer and activist is the director of UN Watch, an organization that fights dictatorships and double standards at the United Nations. He is also an acclaimed…

Martin Hala – Director, Sinopsis

Martin Hala was educated in Prague, Shanghai, Berkeley and Harvard. He taught in Prague and Bratislava and is the founder and director of, a joint project between Academia and…

Topic 2: High-Tech Repression of People of Faith in China


Dolkun – Isa President, World Uyghur Congress

Dolkun Isa is a former student-leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations in East Turkistan in 1988. After having endured persecution at the hands of the Chinese government, Isa fled China in…

Topic 3: Beijing Export of Surveillance Technology


Topic 4: Combating Fears of a China -Led Orwellian World


Tashi Phuntsok

Mr. Tashi Phuntsok is the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the EU and Western Europe, based in Brussels. He took office in 2016. As a teacher, social…

The Geneva Forum Declaration 2019 

We, the experts and witnesses at the 2019 Geneva Forum on “China’s High-Tech Repression and Freedom of Religion”,

Express Our Grave Concern over the reports of high-tech systemic violations of human rights, including freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of movement and peaceful assembly, right to privacy, right against torture, and the likes enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perpetrated by the Government of People’s Republic of China against people under its rule, including Tibetans, Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, Mongolians, Hong- Kongers and Human Rights Defenders, as well as people beyond its borders;

Are Deeply Concerned by the reports of high-tech religious persecution carried out by the Government of People’s Republic of China against the people of faith including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Falun Gong Practitioners, Taoists and believers in folk religions, aimed at destruction of the core belief systems and religious traditions of the believers;

Gravely Note the repressive policies of the Communist Party of China and its government to destroy the distinct way of life, rich heritage, cultural diversity, language and identity of people under its rule including Tibetans, Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, Mongolians and Hong-Kongers;

Are Gravely Concerned by the sophisticated surveillance used by China, including the usage of artificial intelligence, facial recognition, biometric registration, data mining, phone spyware, GPS tagging, drones, DNA profiling etc., and the new Social Credit System being introduced which will further perpetuate the oppressive regime of Communist Party of China;

Note with Deep Concern the export, sale, transfer and servicing of the high-tech surveillance systems and internet controls by China’s autocratic regime across the globe which is resulting in declining democracies and rise of autocrats in the world.

And Thereby We,

Call Upon the Government of People’s Republic of China to: 

  • STOP WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT the abuse of technology and the high-tech human rights violations carried out against people under its rule including Tibetans, Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, Mongolians, and Hong-Kongers; the high-tech religious persecution of people of faith; and the export, sale, transfer and servicing of its high-tech surveillance tools to other countries;
  • RESPECT AND GUARANTEE all Human Rights, including the freedom of religion or belief and the right of the believers to choose their own religious leaders as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ensure personal data protection and maintain transparency in public affairs;

Call Upon the Governments and the European Union to create a binding human rights compliant safeguards regime for the investment, development, manufacture and export of surveillance tools and internet controls, and on the UN to provide all possible support and co-operation in this regard;

Call Upon the international community and organizations, governments, civil societies to press China to respect and guarantee human rights and to stop the export of tools of authoritarianism;

Call Upon governments, international institutions and business enterprises, including multi-national companies, to fully and meaningfully implement the UN Guiding Principles and relevant treaty obligations in their business dealings with China and to stop funding/investing in research and manufacturing of surveillance tools by China,

And hereby so declared. 

Contact Us

The Tibet Bureau

Office of the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Place de la Nagivation 10

Ch-1201 Geneva


Tel. +41227387940