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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China: Witnesses Lift Veil on Abuses by Security Forces in Tibet

July 23, 2010

Scale and Severity of Violations Warrants International Investigation
For Immediate Release
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
July 22, 2010

(New York, July 22, 2010) -- Eyewitness accounts
confirm that Chinese security forces used
disproportionate force and acted with deliberate
brutality during and after unprecedented Tibetan
protests beginning on March 10, 2008, Human
Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
Many violations continue today, including
disappearances, wrongful convictions and
imprisonment, persecution of families, and the
targeting of Tibetans suspected of sympathizing with the protest movement.

The 73-page report, "‘I Saw It with My Own Eyes’:
Abuses by Security Forces in Tibet, 2008-2010,"
is based on more than 200 interviews with Tibetan
refugees and visitors conducted immediately after
they left China, as well as fresh, not previously
reported, official Chinese sources. The report
details, through eyewitness testimonies, a broad
range of abuses committed by security forces both
during and after protest incidents, including
using disproportionate force in breaking up
protests, proceeding to large-scale arbitrary
arrests, brutalizing detainees, and torturing suspects in custody.

"Dozens of eyewitness testimonies and the
government’s own sources show clearly the
official willingness to use lethal force against
unarmed protestors,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia
advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “This
report decisively refutes the Chinese
government’s claim that it handled the protests
in line with international standards and domestic laws."

The report also suggests that contrary to
government claims, Chinese security forces opened
fire indiscriminately on demonstrators in at
least four separate incidents, including in one
area of downtown Lhasa on March 14.

In order to avoid external or independent
scrutiny of the security operations, the Chinese
authorities effectively locked down the entire
Tibetan plateau and dispatched massive numbers of
troops across all Tibetan-inhabited areas. It
expelled journalists and foreign observers,
restricted travel to and within the region, cut
or monitored telecommunications and internet, and
arrested anyone suspected of reporting on the
crackdown. The government has rejected all calls
for independent investigations into the protests,
including those from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and UN special rapporteurs.

Human Rights Watch has condemned violence
committed by Tibetans as well as by security
forces. In Lhasa alone, 21 people were killed and
several hundred injured during the March 14-15
time period in 2008, according to government
figures. But international legal standards limit
the use of force by states to that which is
strictly necessary in order to protect life or to
apprehend perpetrators of violent crimes. In
multiple incidents, eyewitness testimonies show
that Chinese forces acted in contravention of
these standards and broke international law -
including prohibitions against disproportionate
use of force, torture, and arbitrary detention,
as well as the right to peaceful assembly --
despite government claims to the contrary.

From the outset of the protests, the Chinese
government consistently stated that it would
handle all cases arising from the protests in an
impartial manner and “according to law.” But the
report offers a very different picture: one in
which thousands of demonstrators and ordinary
Tibetans were arrested and detained without due
process and without regard to legal procedures;
where the state provided no accountability as to
the whereabouts of detainees; and where a
politicized judiciary controlled by party
authorities conducted proceedings in which
defendants had virtually no due process.

Human Rights Watch said that the report’s finding
showed that the Chinese government urgently needs
to investigate the protests and their aftermath,
and open the region to media and international
monitors. The Chinese authorities also need to
examine the conduct of its security forces, which
eyewitnesses consistently say used
disproportionate force; deliberately brutalized
and mistreated Tibetans detained for suspected
involvement in the unrest; and deprived detainees
of minimum guarantees of due process of law,
including formal notification of where, or why, they were held.

"The need for an international investigation into
the situation in Tibet is a great as ever,"
Richardson said. "Abuses by security forces are
unlikely to quell, and may even aggravate, the
longstanding grievances that prompted the protests in the first place."


In early March 2008, the suppression by Chinese
security forces of a string of peaceful protests
by Tibetan monks from major monasteries in and
around Lhasa led to a severe break down of public
order in the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China on March 14.

As massive security reinforcements from
neighboring provinces poured into the area and
the government threatened a major crackdown, an
unprecedented wave of protests erupted across the
Tibetan plateau. Official reports acknowledged
over 150 incidents in the first two weeks, and
occasional isolated protests continued to be reported over many months.

In response to this most sustained episode of
Tibetan unrest in decades, the Chinese government
launched largest security operations in the
country since the crackdown of the Tiananmen movement in 1989.

Yet the Chinese government has yet to explain the
precise circumstances that led to dozens of
clashes between protesters and police. It has not
addressed how its security forces handled
protesters -- including allegedly using lethal
force and abandoning Lhasa’s city-center to
protesters and looters for several hours on March
14. Nor has the Chinese government revealed the
fate of hundreds of Tibetans arrested during the
protests, or disclosed how many Tibetans have
been detained, sentenced, held pending trial, or
sentenced to extrajudicial forms of detention.

Testimonies from "‘I Saw It with My Own Eyes’:
Abuses by Security Forces in Tibet, 2008-2010":

"They were firing straight at people. They were
coming from the direction of Jiangsu Lu firing at
any Tibetans they saw, and many people had been killed.”
-- Pema Lhakyi (not her real name,) a 24-year -old Lhasa resident.

"She was shot by a single bullet in the head.
Local people managed to take her body home to the
village, which is about five kilometers from Tongkor monastery.”
-- Sonam Tenzin (not his real name), a 27-year-old monk from Tongkor monastery.

"At first, the soldiers fired in front of the
crowd a few times to scare them, but the crowd
thought they would not dare to actually fire and
continued crowding inside the compound. At that
point, the soldiers started to fire."
-- Tenpa Trinle (not his real name), a 26-year-old monk from Seda county.

"The first thing I saw was a lot of soldiers and
police beating the crowd with electric batons.
Groups of four or five soldiers were arresting
crowd members one by one and putting them in a truck."
-- Dorje Tso (not his real name) 55-year-old resident from Tongren.

"They burst in, breaking the doors and gates of
the colleges and dormitories. The soldiers were
armed and equipped with hatchets and hammers, as
well as torches, handcuffs and wire ropes. On
entering monks’ rooms they would first ask for
phones, which were systematically confiscated --
Some of the arrested monks were handcuffed;
others tied up with wire ropes … They ordered us
to move very fast, and if we didn't, they’d hit
us. Several hundred monks were taken away."
-- Jampa Lhaga (not his real name), a former Drepung monk in Lhasa.

"None of the means -- adopted there have exceeded
the constitutional rights of the armed forces or international law."
-- Wu Shuangzhan, Commander of the People’s Armed Police, March 16, 2008.

"We were beaten very badly. The guards used clubs
and sticks to beat us -- They hit us mostly on
the lower body. This lasted two days. Then we
were taken to Gutsa prison in Lhasa. There, the
police interrogated us non-stop for two whole
days and nights. They were beating us, taking
turns to conduct the interrogation …”
-- Rinchen Namgyal (not his real name), a
33-year-old monk from Ganden monastery.

"Up to 30 people were crowded in cells of three
or four square meters. There was no space to sit
down so detainees had to stand most of the day
and night. The cells had no toilets but prisoners
were not taken out and had to relieve themselves
in the cell. They were given one bowl of rice
congee a day. Many were subjected to beatings.”
-- Pasang Choepel (not his real name), a former detainee from Aba.

"The Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Intermediate People's Court held that the
defendant Dorje Kandrup [Ch. Duoji Kangzhu] wrote
pamphlets calling for Tibetan independence, threw
them on important roads of Ganzi County, brazenly
inciting to split the country and destroy
national unity, and that her actions amounted to
the crime of inciting separatism.
-- Public notice of Ganzi prefecture’s Political
and Legal Committee announcing the 6-year
imprisonment verdict of Dorje Kandrup.

"The beatings continued in the courtyard. The PAP
soldiers were using belts and the butt of their
guns -- They were kicking him on the ground, and
he was bleeding a lot -- there was so much blood.
Then they left him just lying on the ground,
motionless -- I saw it with my own eyes."
-- Lhundrup Dorje (not his real name), a resident from Lhasa.

To read "‘I Saw It with My Own Eyes’: Abuses by
Security Forces in Tibet, 2008-2010,"  please

For more information, please contact:

In Paris, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French,
Mandarin): +852-8198-1040 (mobile)

In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English,
Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)

In New York, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin):
+1-212-216-1213; or +1-212-810-0469 (mobile)

In Mumbai, Meenakshi Ganguly (Hindi, Bengali,
English): +91-98-200-36032 (mobile)

In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile)

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