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China Refuses to Admit Tibet Crackdown to UN Treaty Body

October 26, 2008

By Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon, Phayul Special Correspondent
October 24, 2008

United Nations, Geneva, Oct. 24 -- In a written response dated 8
September 2008 to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), China
denied that hundreds of Tibetans were detained following the Tibetan
Uprising and failed to provide "a list of all persons detained" as
requested by the Committee in August 2008. "And the notion of
'dispersing the peaceful demonstrations by monks' is sheer
fabrication" China said in its communication.

This UN expert-body which monitors the full implementation of the UN
Convention Against Torture by State-Parties requested a written
response from China by stating: "Public statements confirmed that
hundreds of persons were detained in connection with the unrest that
followed the March 2008 demonstration in the Tibet Autonomous Region
and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties in Gansu, Sichuan
and Qinghai provinces."

Taking a position that the 2008 Uprising in Tibet was "not parades
and demonstrations," China told the Committee that "there is no such
a thing as 'hundreds of people' have been arrested because of these
demonstrations." China response, now available, on the website of the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, then states: "As
of July 2008, the justice departments detained 953 persons, among
them, 362 persons surrendered themselves to the police; 42 have been
convicted and sentenced, and another 116 criminal suspects are under
trial according to law." However, China's response does not provide
any detailed information about the situation of Tibetan detainees
outside the "Tibet Autonomous Region".

CAT had also raised a specific question on the whereabouts of Gedhun
Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet, requesting the
Chinese authorities to provide information on this case. In line with
its previous statements, the Chinese authorities again avoided a
direct answer by simply stating that the Panchen Lama and his family
"indicated clearly that in order to keep their normal life from being
disturbed, they do not wish to meet with any organization or
outsiders. This desire of theirs should be respected."

At the 41st session which begins on 3 November, the Committee will
review China's Fourth Periodic Report through almost six hours
discussions with the Chinese delegation on 7 and 10 November at the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. When the
Committee last reviewed China's Third Report in May 2000, it
expressed concern "about the continuing allegations of serious
incidents of torture, especially involving Tibetans and other
national minorities ... the absence of a uniform and effective
investigation mechanism to examine allegations of torture..."

Apart from studying the China Report, the Committee additionally
asked China to "provide information on the reported excessive use of
force by the police forces in dispersing the peaceful demonstrations
by monks on the 49th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama in
March 2008." While providing a lengthy explanation to this question,
China said that "the 'exile of the Dalai Lama' is an expression which
is out of tune with historical facts." Denying that excessive force
was used by its police, China undermined the Tibetan Uprising by
stating: "The incident which happened in Tibet and the neighbouring
areas in March this year was not "peaceful demonstration" at all,
rather, it was an organized law-breaking serious incident of
violence. In the course of handling the case, the law enforcement
personnel strictly abided by law and performed their duty of
protecting the safety of life and properties of the people, thus
"excessive use of force by police" does not exist.

Through these total denials on the ground realities on the Tibetan
Plateau, China totally discarded the Committee's other question such
as on the number of Tibetans who lost their lives since March. "It is
reported that there were a number of deaths in connection with unrest
in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring prefectures and
counties. Please provide information on any investigation into those
deaths and whether there will be a transparent public inquiry into
them," the Committee asked.

Providing no substantive evidence, a politically discriminatory
posture of China responded to this question saying: "According to
investigation conducted by the department concerned, during the
incident on 14 March in Lhasa and other places, the criminal violence
committed by law-breakers caused the death of 18 innocent persons who
were chopped, smashed or burned to death (among them, 3 were
Tibetans), and one law enforcing personnel died a martyr's death."

Amnesty International in its submission to the Committee highlighted
one Tibetan case of Paltsal Kyab, who died on 26 May 2008, five weeks
after he was detained by police. According to eyewitnesses, severe
injuries to his body suggest that he died as a result of being
tortured in police custody. Similarly, the submissions by the Tibetan
Government in Exile and International Campaign for Tibet said that
between 140 to 218 Tibetans were killed, died under torture or
committed suicide. All these submissions, generally known as Shadow
Report from stakeholders are now available on the Committee's web-link.

New York-based Human Rights in China in its submission stated that
China's classification of State secrets such as "Top Secret," "Highly
Secret" and "Secret" cannot be challenged or appealed. Referring to
the Tibetan Uprising, the organization said: "Information about the
treatment of persons detained or sentenced in connection with the
March 2008 Tibetan demonstrations and information about any
investigations into deaths in connection with the March 2008 Tibetan
demonstrations are all classified or related to classified information."

As the Committee Against Torture is scheduled to receive NGO
statements on the China Report on 6 November, a strong Tibetan
participation is expected, including by the appearance of
former-political prisoners like Takna Jigme Sangpo before the body.

It is also expected that the Committee may raise many pertinent
questions to the Chinese delegation, including on some of the issues
raised in August to which China remained silent. For instance, China
avoided the question concerning the Chinese lawyers who received
warnings after offering to defend Tibetan detainees with some
reportedly refused of license registration.

According to Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and
Democracy and other monitoring organizations around 100 Tibetans,
majority of them political prisoners have died as a result of torture
since China ratified the Convention Against Torture on 4 October,
1988. This figure will certainly rise as more reports emerge of
custodial deaths due to systematic torture and other cruel methods
inflicted on Tibetan detainees since March.

China's Initial Report was reviewed by the Torture Committee on 27
April 1990 but the unsatisfied Committee asked for an additional
report by 31 December 1990 since it found that many of the questions
posed to China remained unanswered. In its report to the UN General
Assembly in 1990, the Committee said: "It was also noted that the
Chinese Government had not hesitated to recognise in its report that
torture had yet to be eliminated completely. In that connection,
members referred to the numerous allegations of torture in China,
particularly in Tibet … and asked what was the Government's position
in that respect. More specifically, questions were put concerning the
particular status of Tibet in the People's Republic of China, the
measures adopted to protect the rights of the Tibetan population and,
more generally, steps taken to combat torture practice with a view to
their final elimination."

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) is a body of 10 independent
experts who hail from Chile, China, Cyprus, Ecuador, Morocco, Norway,
Russia, Senegal, Spain and United States of America.

Before the Committee concludes its session on 21 November 2008, it
will adopt a concluding observation on China's Fourth Periodic Report.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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