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TCHRD commemorates 11th UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 29, 2008

Press Statement
June 26, 2008

Today, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)
commemorates the eleventh anniversary of the UN International Day in
Support of Victims of Torture to recognize the pain and suffering
that victims and survivors of torture throughout the world has gone through.

In 1984, the General Assembly adopted the UN Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT), which entered into force on 26 June 1987. It was an important
step in the much-needed process of globalising human rights and
acknowledging that torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, are absolutely and universally illegal and
should not be condoned. There can be zero tolerance for torture. In
1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this
historic date and designated 26 June each year as the International
Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The Convention obliges States
to make torture a crime and to prosecute and punish those guilty of
it. It notes explicitly that neither higher orders nor exceptional
circumstances can justify torture.

In Chinese occupied Tibet, it has a long and reprehensive history of
gross human rights violations abetted by a political culture of
impunity towards past human rights violations. The torture and ill
treatment are endemic in the wide network of prisons and detention
centers across the Tibetan plateau. Torture, cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment appears to have become a central element of state
agents' treatment of Tibetans perceived as being in opposition to the
Communist regime and those attempting to exercise their rights to
freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. Tibetans
who support the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama or have
divergent views to those of the Communist regime have been primary
targets of torture, ill-treatment or other forms of human rights
violations. TCHRD notes that, Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB)
and People's Armed Police (PAP) are repeatedly using torture as a
means of intimidating, investigating and extracting information or
confessions from real or perceived offenders and detainees.

TCHRD has recorded cases of more than 6,500 Tibetans arbitrarily
arrested or detained and the deaths of more than 100 others,
disappearance, torture, violent beating and ill treatment of Tibetan
people by the Chinese authorities in Tibet since recent series of
protests that broke out across Tibet. Additionally, the cases of
thousands of injured Tibetans remain unaccounted for since 10 March
Protests. Reportedly, many Tibetans have also died shortly after
being released from Chinese custody, in which they were subjected to
inhumane torture. For instance, Nechung, a 38- year-old mother of
four children from Charu Hu Village in Ngaba County, Ngaba "TAP",
Sichuan Province, died days after being subjected to brutal torture
in a Chinese prison on 17 April 2008.

In another instance, Dawa, a 31 year-old Tibetan farmer from Dedrong
Village, Jangkha Township, Phenpo Lhundup County, Lhasa City, "TAR",
died on 1 April 2008 after being severely beaten by Chinese prison
guards. On 8 June 2008, Tsering Tsomo, a 27-year-old nun of
Samtenling a.k.a Watak Nunnery was severely beaten and tortured by
pounding her with iron rods, kicked and punched indiscriminately for
staging a peaceful solo protest in Kardze County. In order to secure
her release, more than two hundred nuns staged a peaceful protest but
they too were meted out with brutal crackdown by the Chinese security
forces by pounding with electric prod, kicked and punched, injuring
scores of them.

In yet in another incident, three monks from Drango County in Kardze
"TAP" were brutally crushed by the security forces for staging a
peaceful protest in front of the County government headquarters that
they were seriously injured from used of brutal force by security
forces. One of them, Tsewang Dakpa, a 22 year old from Jangtha
Township, Drango County, in particular sustained multiple and severe
injury that eyewitness recounted slight chances of his survival.
There were even rumour of Tsewang Dakpa's death from torture he
suffered and it could not be ascertained even today.

Thabkey, a 30 year-old monk of Labrang Monastery, arrested along with
seven other monks who defiantly briefed a group of foreign media
personal on a government managed tour in Labrang, was released after
several days' detention. Thabkey was released in a mentally unstable
condition with bruise marks all over his body from severe beatings in
the police custody.

Torture and ill-treatment being a regular feature in the Chinese
administered prisons and detention facilities, the Centre is highly
concerned about the well-being and safety of the political prisoners
and detainees involved in political activisms upon whom the worst of
torture is afflicted. It is important to note that torture is now
considered a peremptory norm of international law, which means that
its prohibition is absolute. International law states clearly that
there are no circumstances under which torture and other cruel,
inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment can be justified. Article
2 of CAT unequivocally states that:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a
threat of war, internal political stability or any other public
emergency, may be invoked as justification of torture. An order from
a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a
justification for torture"

However, electric prod, violent beating, pricking cigarettes on the
face, beating, hand or thumb cuffs, feet manacles, aerial suspension,
exposure to extreme temperature, long period of solitary confinement,
sleep deprivation, forced labour and forced exercise drills are few
of the commonly used techniques employed by the Chinese authorities
to defeat the nationalist spirit of the Tibetans and to break down
individual's personality. As terrible as the physical wounds are, the
psychological and emotional scars are usually the most devastating
and the most difficult to repair. A subtle form of mental torture is
being used on former political prisoners in Tibet. Life after prison
for these prisoners are made extremely difficult as they are denied
readmission into their monastery or nunnery, socially ostracized, are
constantly harassed by officials and have no prospect of leading a
normal life and therefore, many escape into exile for freedom and
start a new life. Notwithstanding the increasing reports of torture
and ill treatments, intimidation and human rights violations have
taken a new, subtler and covertly violent form which has enacted a
tangible climate of fear in the Tibetan population.

The People's Republic of China (PRC) signed the UN Convention against
Torture (CAT) and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on 12
December 1986 and ratified the convention on 4 October 1988. The
Chinese constitution does not contain an express prohibition of
torture. The relevant provisions of the constitution in this context
are Article 37 and 38 that protect the personal dignity of Chinese
citizens. Chapter two of the constitution of the PRC covers several
fundamental civil and political rights as well as economic, social
and cultural rights but contains no explicit prohibition of torture
and other forms of ill-treatment. Although PRC outlawed certain forms
of torture in the revised Chinese Criminal Procedure Law that came
into effect in 1997, not a single change has been made to criminal or
criminal procedure laws. Despite UN Special Rapporteur recommendation
for changes in it's 2006 report, such changes have gone
unimplemented. Necessary changes would includes the provision of the
comprehensive definition of torture in line with article 1 of the
Convention against Torture and the adoption of fair trial guarantees
as provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), to which PRC is a signatory.

In view of the current human rights situation in Tibet, TCHRD urges
the government of the PRC to implement the recommendations made by
the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to eradicate torture and "to
ensure torture survivors' right to full reparation with special
attention to medical and psychological needs". And thoroughly
investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of abuses when those
abuses can be proven. The PRC should eradicate the widespread culture
of impunity and perpetrators of gross human rights abuses should be
brought to justice. The Centre also urges the international community
to pressure the PRC to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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