GENEVA FORUM 2020
FORUM ON CHINA’S POLICY ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION: GLOBAL IMPACT
Key organizers: Office of Tibet Geneva and Human Rights Desk, Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration
About the Forum:
The human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China has been seeing a downward trend since its inception in 1949. In recent times, it has only gone worse. China is now playing an increasingly aggressive role in challenging universally accepted principles of human rights and the UN human rights protection and assessment mechanism. In order to preserve the international human rights system and to bring forth the ground realities in China to counter China’s propaganda, a forum focusing on human rights in China has become more crucial than ever.
The first Geneva Forum was held on 2 November 2018 in the backdrop of China’s third Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council. It brought together a select group of human rights experts, practitioners, academicians, activists, diplomats, advocates and activists for a day-long forum to report and discuss the “human rights situation in regions under the People’s Republic of China.” It had representations from all the regions including Tibet, East Turkestan (CHN:Xinjiang), Southern Mongolia (CHN: Inner Mongolia) and Hong Kong and also the affected country like Taiwan.
Following its huge success and based on the overwhelming feedback, it was decided to hold the Geneva Forum as an annual event. The second edition of Geneva Forum was scaled up to a 2-day long forum to discuss “China’s high-tech repression and freedom of religion.” On 14-15 November 2019 human rights experts, researchers, practitioners, parliamentarians, diplomats, technology experts, civil society groups, activists and journalists convened for the Geneva Forum 2019. The highlight of the forum was a declaration titled, “Geneva Forum Declaration 2019” by all the speakers, experts, defenders, witnesses and participants calling upon China, UN, governments and international community to take note and stop China from violating human rights.
The Geneva Forum on Human Rights has evolved to be a unique platform for human rights experts, practitioners, academicians, activists, governments, diplomats, think tanks, civil society groups and the affected groups to monitor and evaluate the human rights situation in regions under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) including Tibet, East Turkestan (CHN: Xinjiang), Southern Mongolia (CHN: Inner Mongolia) and Hong Kong. By bringing together a diverse group of individuals, organizations and institutions, the Forum aims to examine a coordinated multilateral approach to challenge and hold China accountable for its worsening human rights record.
2020 Central Theme
The theme for the Third Geneva Forum 2020 is “China’s Policy on Freedom of Religion: Global Impact.” The forum will report and deliberate on the declining freedom of religion in regions under China leading to religious persecution. It will also touch upon the constant interferences by the Chinese government in the religious practices of believers including the selection of their religious leaders, case in point being the continuous Chinese intrusions in the centuries old Tibetan Buddhist practice of recognition of reincarnated lamas and in particular its intention to meddle in the reincarnation of the Dalai Lamas. The forum will also discuss the larger ramifications of the Vatican’s agreement to recognize the Bishops appointed by China.
The 2020 Geneva Forum aims to achieve 3 crucial objectives:
- To understand and analyse the religious persecution being carried out in territories under Chinese rule;
- To bring forth the global impact of the repressive policies of CCP on religious freedom;
- To strategize and develop multilateral co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese government’s interferences in selection of religious figures and leaders.
The one-week virtual 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 and also receive questions from live audience. 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 religious persecution in China.
Panel 1: China’s Policy on Freedom of Religion under the Global Framework
Panel 2: Religious Persecution: Crackdown on People of Faith in China
Panel 3: Tibetan Buddhist System of Reincarnation and Why China wants to control it?
Panel 4: Countering China’s Persecution of Believers: Way Forward
The Geneva Forum expects to build a network of organizations and experts focusing on human rights and religious freedom in China to help 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.