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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

UN demands answers on Chinese torture

September 28, 2008

The United Nations has presented China with a long list of questions
about its alleged human rights abuses.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai - United Kingdom
25 Sep 2008

China will have to answer the questions during two hearings in Geneva at
the beginning of November.

The UN Committee against Torture excoriated China for the "continued
pervasiveness" of torture "in the criminal justice system".

It demanded a list of all the people detained in connection with the
riots in Tibet in March, including their current location and
convictions. It also asked for an explanation as to why detainees were
denied access to a doctor during their imprisonment both before and
after trial.

"At least 30 persons were found guilty and sentenced less than six weeks
after the events, please clarify the basis of these sentences," the
committee asked.

It demanded full details about the number of people who were killed in
the riots, which spread from Tibet into the neighbouring provinces of
Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai. Reports at the time suggested that over 100
people had died in clashes with security forces.

The list of questions, which is dated August 2008, emerged just after
Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, made China's first address to the United
Nations General Assembly in New York.

It also coincided with a Chinese "White Paper" on the "protection and
development of Tibetan culture."

According to Xinhua, the state news agency, the white paper was designed
to "give the international community a better understanding of the
reality of the protection and development of Tibetan culture" and to
refute charges of "the so-called cultural genocide" in the region.

The paper attacked the Dalai Lama "and his cohorts" in the West for
conspiring to "force the Tibetan ethnic group and its culture to
stagnate and remain in a state similar to the Middle Ages."

China has compiled five reports to the Committee against Torture. In the
latest report, dated June 2007, it said that the "prohibition of torture
has been a consistent position of the Chinese government" and listed a
number of regulations that have been brought into place to guard human

Its report claimed that the number of criminal charges brought because
torture was used to extort confessions had fallen from 143 in 1999 to 53
in 2004. However, the Chinese report failed to provide any detail on the
cases or to comment on specific incidents raised by the UN.

In its latest grilling, the Committee also asked why China had ignored
its recommendation to abolish "the Re-Education through Labour system",
which sees dissidents sentenced to hard labour. "The system ... aims at
altering the personality of the detainee [and] reportedly causes severe
physical and mental pain and suffering," it said.

It also lashed out at the use of "retrievers (jiefang renyuan)", a large
number of unofficial thugs who violently round up dissidents and take
them to the authorities.

The UN also said it had heard that "the State party has established
detention facilities especially to detain petitioners coming to Beijing"
and asked for a full clarification, as well as for China to reveal the
whereabouts of a number of high-profile dissidents and their legal
representatives. It alleged that many of the dissidents had been
"forcibly disappeared".
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