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China accused of Tibet brutality

July 23, 2010

By Geoff Dyer in Beijing
The Financial Times (UK)
July 21, 2010

Chinese security forces used "deliberate
brutality" against Tibetans after the wave of
protests in the region two years ago, including
torture and the disappearance of suspects,
according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of Tibetans were arrested without
regard to legal procedures, which led to a large
number of wrongful convictions and imprisonment, the report claims.

The report is the most detailed examination yet
by an independent human rights group of the 2008
protests and their aftermath. Human Rights Watch
called for an international investigation to look
into the claims of mistreatment.

Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher at Human
Rights Watch, said the group prepared the report
because so many of the claims surrounding the
Tibetan riots were "unverifiable." "This
establishes a clear pattern of abuse," he said.
"It is no longer just a case of indirect reports
or assumptions that because Tibet is a black box,
then abuses must be taking place."

The 2008 protests were one of the biggest
domestic challenges to the authority of the
Chinese Communist party in the past two decades.
The focal point was an ugly race riot in Lhasa on
March 14, where Tibetan residents attacked Han
Chinese residents and their businesses, killing a number of people.

There were also a large number of protests --
some violent, others peaceful -- in other parts
of Tibet and in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu
and Qinghai, which have large Tibetan
populations. A report by Xinhua, the Chinese
state news agency, says there were as many as 150
different incidents and Human Rights Watch has
documented protests in 18 different counties across western China.

Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama and his "clique"
for inciting the unrest and launched a propaganda
offensive attacking the way the events were
covered by foreign news organisations -- a
position widely supported by many Chinese.

The Human Rights Watch report, which is based on
eyewitness accounts from more than 200 Tibetans
and official reports, says that in some cases
Chinese security forces showed considerable
restraint in the face of violent protests, but it
also details at least four instances where they
opened fire on unarmed protesters. It provides
accusations of torture of Tibetans arrested after
the protests, sometimes in order to get
confessions about overseas involvement, which it
says led to several deaths in custody.

Earlier this year, Beijing said it was doubling
its bet that rapid economic development would
eventually win the political loyalty of its Tibetan population.

Yet there were also some indications that Beijing
was playing down the development model based on
huge infrastructure investments, and placing more
emphasis on improving the incomes of ordinary Tibetans.

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