Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."
<-Back to WTN Archives Brutal Treatment Reportedly Awaits Repatriated Tibetans (ICT)
Tibetan Flag

World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Friday, January 23, 2004

3. Brutal Treatment Reportedly Awaits Repatriated Tibetans (ICT)

By International Campaign for Tibet
January 23, 2004

Katmandu - More details have emerged about the torture and maltreatment
of 18 Tibetans who were forcibly repatriated by Nepal to Chinese
authorities in May 2003. Former inmates from the prison cells in
Shigatse, Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), have recounted incidents
where the 18 deportees were shocked with electric batons, repeatedly
kicked in the genitals and forced to stand naked outside for four to
five hours at a time, three to four times a week.

One former inmate recalled prison guards beating members of the group of
18 Tibetans while yelling, "Think about why you tried to go and see the
Dalai Lama."

Another former inmate in the same prison told the International Campaign
for Tibet (ICT), "When they put the electric cattle prod in my mouth,
you could feel it through your entire body and you faint from the pain."

As of mid-October, two of the 18 Tibetans deported were still in prison,
according to former prisoners who were in the Shigatse Prison. Dorje,
one of the remaining 18 deportees, was in poor health and deteriorating
at the time of their release, according to former prisoners. Dorje is
reportedly from Litang in Kandze Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province.

ICT has learned that 16 of the 18 deportees were only released after
relatives or friends bribed local authorities, in addition to paying a
1,800 yuan fine (approximately US$220). The bribes are estimated to have
been between US$400-620, according to ICT sources in Shigatse.

The entire group of 18 deportees was believed to have been taken to a
prison in Shigatse after spending 11 days in a prison in Nyalam at the
Tibet-Nepal border in the first part of April 2003. However, ICT has
learned that four males from the group spent just over a month
quarantined in Nyalam Prison, as Chinese officials reportedly believed
they were carrying the SARS virus.

Immediately after the deportation on May 31, 2003, Chinese officials
segregated the four Tibetans suspected of carrying SARS and held them in
solitary cells. A western human rights monitor who witnessed the May
deportations from the Nepal side of the border told ICT that there were
at least a dozen personnel in white masks and gowns just over the
Friendship Bridge waiting for the group. A Tibetan source in Shigatse
told ICT, "The four who they thought had SARS weren't treated as badly
as the others because the guards did not want to touch them."

No reports have surfaced as to whether or not the inmates had the virus,
leading to suspicions that Chinese authorities used SARS as an excuse
for increasing the detention length of certain prisoners.

The 14 Tibetans that were not quarantined received extensive beatings
and torture while held at Nyalam, former prisoners from Nyalam reported
to ICT. The deportees were reportedly beaten badly and tortured with
electric batons. Former prisoners also reported that some of the 18
deported refugees were subjected to torture methods that included having
sewing needles inserted in between their finger nails and flesh, which
in one case was reportedly done to revive one of the 18 who was

The torture did not stop once the deportees were moved from Nyalam to
prison in Shigatse. Reports have reached ICT from former inmates of the
Shigatse prison that described in detail the various kinds of torture
used there. These include beatings with electric batons and rubber
tubing, extensive beatings and repeated kicking of males in the
testicles, and long periods of time standing naked out of doors.

A Tibetan who spent time in the Shigatse prisons last year after being
caught while trying to flee Tibet told ICT, "The cruelest person in
prison is a Tibetan they call Phuntsok. He would beat us without any
reason whatsoever and I was told that he killed a prisoner a few years

Former prisoners have told ICT that Chinese are more likely to be
present during interrogation sessions but those carrying out the torture
are more often ethnic Tibetans. The identities of Tibetan prison guards
regarded as particularly sadistic are known in Tibetan communities but
reprisals against them are apparently rare.

After spending a month in Nyalam prison, the four Tibetans suspected of
SARS infections joined the rest of the group in a prison in Shigatse.
The prison where they were taken, officially named "Tibet's New
Reception Center," holds Tibetans caught attempting to flee into exile
as well as Tibetans who are returning to Tibet after going to school or
visiting family in Nepal and India. ICT released information concerning
this new prison in December 2003. Photos of the new prison are available
from ICT.

According to former inmates, there were approximately 300 prisoners in
detention at the new Shigatse prison in June 2003 and in November there
were an estimated 450 to 500. Nearly all of the prisoners are Tibetans
who have been caught at the Nangpa pass or near the Friendship Bridge
border crossing near Dram, the main commercial border crossing into
Nepal from Tibet.

On December 28, 2003, China's official Xinhua news agency reported that
China's highest executive authorities, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, head
of the State Council, and Jiang Zemin, chairman of the Central Military
Commission, conferred an honorary title of 'Model Frontier Police
Substation' on the Pali Border Police Substation under the Shigatse
Detachment of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Public Security and
Border Defense Corps. The story mentions specifically that the title was
given because of the border guards "safeguarding [of] the motherland's
unification and peace in the border areas." (more from Tibetan
Information Network)

"Why do China's top leaders praise those responsible for the torture of
Tibetans seeking a safe haven," said John Ackerly, President of ICT,
"when instead they should be ordering a judicial inquiry of this pattern
of brutal torture?"
Background information

Approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees escape into exile annually,
traveling through Nepal en route to India. Human rights organizations
and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) often only learn of
arrests by Chinese border patrols, or of deportations of Tibetan
refugees by Nepalese officials, when refugees make a successful
re-attempt at escape.

The May 2003 deportation of 18 Tibetans from Katmandu to Chinese
authorities in Tibet drew international headlines and condemnation of
the Nepalese government by the UNHCR and numerous Western governments.
Due to the increasing pressure, Nepal agreed in August not to repatriate
Tibetans in the future.

Refugees who are caught coming back from India or Nepal are reportedly
treated much more harshly and receive longer sentences than those who
are caught trying to leave Tibet, according to former inmates. Tibetans
who have served sentences in the New Reception Center or at Nyari prison
in Shigatse report that most individuals caught at the border serve a
prison sentence of three to five months, receive beatings and torture
regularly (most commonly being hit with an electric baton), and must
perform hard labor, usually road building in and around Shigatse.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Chinese War on Terror Hits Religious Freedom in Tibet (OW)
  2. Rights groups want abuses raised during Chinese president's visit (AFP)
  3. Brutal Treatment Reportedly Awaits Repatriated Tibetans (ICT)
  4. Thai groups battle new China dam (BBC)
  5. Tibetan Rights Activist Yeshi Gyatso Dies at 71 (AP)

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank