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Law Group Condemns World Bank China/Tibet Project (ICLT)


For Immediate Release
Robert Rosoff, ICLT Legal Director 415-668-7140
May 17, 1999

Berkeley, Calif., May 17, 1999: The International Committee of Lawyers for
Tibet (ICLT) today called upon the World Bank to reconsider its support for
the China Western Poverty Reduction Project because it includes the
proposed resettlement of more than 60,000 non-Tibetans into an area that
was Tibetan territory before China’s 1950 invasion and occupation. The
proposed project, which has a total cost of $334 million, will be presented
to the World Bank Board for final approval on June 8th. The project will
contribute to the destruction of Tibetan culture, and the very fragile
ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau. It also violates international law, and
may involve the use of forced prison labor.

The World Bank is funded through donations from countries including the
United States. "Our tax dollars will be spent by the World Bank to help
China absorb Tibet," said Robert Rosoff, Coordinator of ICLT's Legislative
Economic Action Project, “even though the U.S. Congress has declared that
Tibet is an illegally occupied country. If the World Bank funds this
project, it will be an accessory to China's attempt to destroy the Tibetan
culture.”

Convening on May 16th in Dharamsala, India -- site of the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile -- the Tibetan National Democratic Party of Tibet, the
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the Tibetan Women’s
Association, and the Tibetan Youth Congress launched a campaign urging the
World Bank not to fund the China Western Poverty Reduction project.

Since China’s invasion in 1950, the Chinese government has attempted to
increase its control over occupied Tibetan areas by moving Chinese citizens
into these areas. As a result, Tibetans are now a minority in many parts
of Tibet, their way of life is coming under increased attack and their
culture is being destroyed.

The resettlement of people into an occupied territory violates the Fourth
Geneva Convention, which China has ratified. The resettlement project will
also violate the Tibetans' internationally recognized right, as a people
with a distinct language, culture, religion and history, to control their
economic, cultural and political destiny free of interference by implanted
settlers.

Moreover, China’s policy of population transfer into Tibet has resulted in
very serious violations of other human rights treaties that China has
ratified, including treaties prohibiting torture and protecting the rights
of women, children and ethnic and religious minorities. “There is no reason
to believe this pattern of violations will not continue,” said Rosoff.



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