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.

Objectives

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.

Methodology

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

Expected Outcomes

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.

Panel Sessions

Topic 1: China’s Policy on Freedom of Religion under the Global Framework

Speakers

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…

Mikuláš PEKSA

Mr. Mikuláš Peksa started his political career in the Czech Pirate Party, where he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech parliament. In 2019, he succeeded in…

Mr. Nury A. TURKEL

Mr. Nury A. TURKEL is a Commissioner to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), as appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in May 2020. He is the first U.S.-educated…

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle

Ms. Laurence Fehlmann Rielle is a member of the National Council of Switzerland. She is also the Director of FEGPA (la Fédération genevoise pour la prévention de l’alcoolisme) which works…

Sonam Tsering Frasi

Mr. Sonam Tsering Frasi is the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London that oversees Tibet affairs in the UK, Ireland, Northern Europe, Poland and Baltic States. He…

Topic 2: Religious Persecution: Crackdown on People of Faith in China

Speakers

Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim

Tenzin Tsultrim, PhD has earlier worked as a Research Fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) a think-tank of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Dharamshala, India. Currently he is working…

Nijat TURGHUN

Mr. Nijat Turghun is a Sweden-based Uyghur activist who has been actively involved in the cause of East Turkestan since 2007. He pursued his tertiary studies at the prestigious Stockholm…

Bernardo CERVELLERA

Father Bernardo Cervellera is a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. He is also a journalist and currently heads the AsiaNews press agency after his editorial stint at…

Karma Choeying

Mr Karma CHOEYING is the Secretary of Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration (DIIR, CTA). In his 24-year long illustrious administrative service with the CTA…

Geshe LHAKDOR

Venerable Geshe Lhakdor is the director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives based in Dharamshala, India. He has held roles in many bodies under the patronage of His…

Topic 3: Tibetan Buddhist System of Reincarnation and Why China wants to control it?

Speakers

TELO Tulku Rinpoche

Telo Tulku Rinpoche is the head lama (Shadjin Lama) of Kalmykia and Honorary Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries. He received his early…

Piero VERNI

Mr. Piero Verni is a journalist, writer and video maker who lives between  Brittany (France) and Italy. For more than thirty years, he has been  concerned with Tibetan civilisation and…

Tsewang Gyalpo ARYA

Dr. Tsewang Gyalpo Arya is the Representative at the Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia. Prior to this, he served as the Secretary…

Thinlay CHUKKI

Ms. Thinlay Chukki is the Special Appointee for Human Rights at The Tibet Bureau, Geneva. Previously, she worked as a researcher at the UN-EU and Human Rights Desk of the…

Sophie RICHARDSON

Dr. Sophie Richardson is the China director at Human Rights Watch. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the Hopkins-Nanjing Program, and Oberlin College, Dr. Richardson is the author of…

Topic 4: Countering China’s Persecution of Believers: Way Forward

Speakers

Jakub KLEPAL

Mr. Jakub Klepal is the Executive Director of the Forum 2000 Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights…

Bendict ROGERS

Mr. Benedict Rogers is a UK-based human rights activist. He co-founded Hong Kong Watch two months after he was rejected entry into Hong Kong on Beijing’s orders in 2017. He…

Palmo TENZIN

Ms. Palmo Tenzin is an Advocacy Officer for the International Campaign for Tibet in Germany. She is an experienced researcher and policy officer specialising in Chinese politics and contemporary Tibet.…

Nicolas WALDER

Mr. Nicolas Walder is a member of Swiss National Council (Conseil National) from Geneva. He is concurrently a Vice-President of the Les Verts Suisses, and previously served as the president…

Michael BRAND

Mr. Michael Brand is a long serving Member of the German Parliament and a profiled advocate on human rights. He has been elected speaker for human rights by the CDU/CSU…

Contact Us

The Tibet Bureau

Office of the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Place de la Nagivation 10

Ch-1201 Geneva

Switzerland

Tel. +41227387940

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