Monday, 21 December 2009

Annual Report 2008

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
Annual Report 2008

In retrospect, the year 2008 witnessed one of the most repressive periods with unprecedented violations of Tibetan people’s human rights and freedom by the Chinese authorities in Tibet. The Chinese authorities responded with overwhelming force to suppress cascaded protests beginning 10 March which later swept across much of the ethnic Tibetan areas by the end of the March this year. It is highly deplorable and condemnable that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), despite being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a state party to UN treaties on human rights, fails to respect and uphold the basic principles set forth in the UDHR and that the most blatant forms of violations are regularly occurring in the region with impunity. Chinese authorities continue to practice a systematic denial of human rights of the Tibetan people. Mr. Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, acknowledged human rights problems in China by saying that human rights development still has “quite a few things less than satisfactory,”1 but would see progress as the modernization drive went on. However, the Chinese authorities continue to commit the most blatant human rights violations that are inconsistent with the Constitutions and the International laws. China even failed to fulfil several Olympics related commitments including press freedom, media access, the free flow of information, and freedom of assembly.

“For us, access to news is blocked; we are not allowed to watch news or put up a satellite dish nor are we allowed to listen/watch news from the United States and other foreign countries. We are ordered to watch and listen to domestic broadcasts. We are told not to listen to foreigners nor to talk to them. As such, where is the freedom of expression?”

Monks of Drepung Monastery marching towards Lhasa City on 10 March 2008

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in an interview with CNN during the inauguration of the UN General Assembly said; “…In the freedom of speech and the freedom in news media coverage are guaranteed in China. The Chinese government attaches importance to, and protects, human rights. We have incorporated these lines into the Chinese constitution, and we also implement the stipulation in real earnest. I think for any government, what is most important is to ensure that its people enjoy each and every right given to them by the constitution…. I don’t think a system or a government should fear critical opinions or views.”35 Such repeated claims were also made by Zhang Jun, vice president of the Supreme People’s court by saying that “…citizens have the rights to express their ideas under the legal system, which includes suggestions to and criticisms on the government. The rights are protected by law and Constitution.”36 However, in the backdrop of recent series of protests across the Tibetan plateau since March this year, the freedom of expression took a real beating as otherwise gallantly pronounced in the Constitution and other major international covenants, to which the PRC is a signatory.

Chinese Security Personnel policing the internet

The Tibetan writer and blogger, Tsering Woeser, has been the target of threats and hacker attacks because of her articles about the situation in Tibet. Her blog and Skype (Internet telephone) account were hacked on 27 May.41 “My password was changed and I can no longer connect to my account”, she told Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres - RSF), referring to her Skype account. “As far as I can tell, the hacker is already in communication with some of my contacts, which puts them in a situation as dangerous as mine”. Woeser, whose books have been banned and who lives in Beijing, has been placed under house arrest and has been prevented from travelling abroad. The authorities have also pressured her husband, essayist Wang Lixiong. Because readers in China have no access to her books, Woeser has made extensive

“They would hang me up for several hours with my hands tied to a rope….. hanging from the ceiling and my feet above the ground. Then they would beat me on my face, chest, and back, with the full force of their fists. Finally, on one occasion, I had lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. After I regained consciousness at the hospital, I was once again taken back to prison where they continued the practice of hanging me from the ceiling and beating me”

This was not the first time that the use of torture for and inhuman treatment of the Tibetan protesters came to be known but the year rather witnessed one of the most ruthless suppressions of the Tibetan people by the Chinese agencies. Except for a couple of isolated cases, the protests were by and large very peaceful conforming to non-violent standards. However, the authorities’ brutality and use of force were far disproportionate to the threat posed by peaceful protesters. The Centre registered at least 120 known deaths of Tibetans as a direct result of armed retaliations by the law enforcement agencies during and after the protests. The Centre is particularly concerned about the treatment of hundreds of Tibetans detained as a response to the protests in Tibet. Torture and ill-treatment tend to flourish in an environment characterized by secrecy, lack of transparency, failure to respect fair trial rights and lack of accountability, such conditions were fertile for the high prevalence of torture ever more in Tibet after the unrest. In order to hide its repression in Tibet, Beijing sealed off virtually the entire plateau to foreign journalists and observers and imposed information blackout despite promising increasing openness in the buildup to and after the Olympic games. For these reasons the Centre fears for the safety and well-being of those now in detention or disappeared since March this year. Tibet has witnessed one of the highest number of deaths from torture this year. Torture is routinely and systematically employed by the law enforcement agencies in detention centers, police stations and prisons in order to break Tibetan nationalistic sentiment and in order to spread a message of intimidation to those who dare to question the state and its officials. In some cases Tibetans have died as a direct result of torture whilst in custody of the law enforcement agencies and while others were released in their near death condition from torture in order to shun responsibility.

Nechung: 38-year-old Nechung, a mother of four children died days after being subjected to brutal torture in the Chinese prison. She hailed from Charu Hu Village in Ngaba County, Ngaba “TAP” Sichuan Province. After participating in peaceful protests on 16 and17 March 2008 in Ngaba County, she was arrested on 18 March for allegedly being the first person to pull down the doorplate of the Township office.72 On 26 March 2008, she was released from the prison in a critical condition after spending nine days in prison undergoing brutal torture at the hands of prison guards. There were bruise marks on her body, she was unable to speak or eat properly, constantly vomiting and had difficulties while breathing. After the release, her relatives immediately took her to the County government hospital for treatment. However, the County government hospital refused to admit her to the hospital for timely medical treatment, apparently under influence and intimidation of the local authorities. After remaining in critical condition for 22 days without medical treatment she died on 17 April 2008 in an abject state of neglect and apathy of local authorities. Even after her death, the authorities issued a terse warning to Tibetan monks for offering prayers and ritual rites for the deceased soul.

A 40 year old Ghegyam from Soru Ma Village, Amdo who was killed in 16 March 2008.

Dawa: Dawa, a 31 year old farmer died on 1 April 2008 after being subjected to brutal torture by the Chinese prison guards.

Paltsal Kyab, (age around 45) a Tibetan from Sichuan province, died on 26 May 2008, five weeks after he was detained by police in connection with protests which had taken place in and around Tibet since mid-March 2008. According to eyewitnesses, severe injuries to his body suggested that he had died as a result of brutal torture in police custody.

Legtsok: 75-year old Legtsok of Ngaba Gomang Monastery committed suicide on 30 March 2008. Days before committing suicide, Legtsok accompanied by two other monks while on their way to perform prayer rituals at the house of a Tibetan family encountered a large contingent of Chinese security forces heading towards Ngaba Gomang Monastery to quell the protesting peaceful monks at the monastery. The Chinese forces brutally beat Legtsok and detained him for a few days. Later he was released and sent back to the monastery. He repeatedly told his two disciples “he can’t bear the oppression anymore”.

A 16 year old Lhundup Tso who was killed in 16 March 2008 in Amdo Ngaba.

in Human Rights Situation in Tibet: Annual Report 2008

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