Tomorrow-25 June 2006- is UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) commemorates the day in support of victims of torture throughout the world. TCHRD hopes that a day will dawn when the practice of torture will be completely eradicated and the abusers brought to justice.
In Chinese occupied Tibet, torture is endemic in the network of prisons on the plateau. The systematic practice of torture is aimed to breakdown the spirit of nationalism of the Tibetan people. Towards this end, rampant use of torture has resulted in the death of 88 known Tibetan political prisoners since 1987. According to TCHRD’s documentation there are currently 132 known Tibetan political prisoners languishing in various prisons in Tibet. Torture being a regular feature in the Chinese administered prisons, the Centre is highly concerned about the well being of the political prisoners upon whom the worst of torture is afflicted. Electric shocks, pricking cigarettes on the face, hand or thumb cuffs, feet manacles, suspension from ceiling, exposure to extreme temperature, long period of solitary confinement, deprivation of food, water and sleep, forced labour and forced exercise drills are few of the torture techniques employed by the authorities to defeat the nationalist spirit of the Tibetans.
“Torture is afflicted from day one in detention and carried on through out a prisoner’s term. There exist unimaginable forms of torture and I fail to understand how can a human being to do this to another human being”, said Rinzin Choekyi, 37 years old, who recently fled Tibet after serving 12 years in the notorious Drapchi Prison for shouting pro-independence slogans in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. She further said, “Every Tibetan political prisoner suffers torture whilst in prison. The prison officials single out the political prisoners in subjecting them to torture. Due to innumerable torture accompanied by denial of proper medical treatment has resulted in death of Tibetan political prisoners while in prison, and those who survive the Chinese prisons suffer from various illnesses throughout their life.” Rinzin and another former inmate, Lhundrup Sangmo, who served 9 years prison term, are currently undergoing medical treatment in exile.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a state party to the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment since 1988. Although PRC outlawed certain forms of torture in the revised Chinese Criminal Procedure Law that came into effect in 1997, systematic torture is still endemic in the Chinese administered prisons in Tibet. After a decade of appeals by various human rights organisations, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr. Manfred Nowark, was able to pay visits to Lhasa, “Tibet Autonomous Region”, Beijing and Urumqi from 20 November to 2 December 2005. The visit has been held a great victory in exposing the practice of brutal torture in Tibet and the PRC.
In view of the current situation in Tibet, although complete eradication of torture remains a distant dream, TCHRD urges the government of the PRC to implement the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to eradicate torture and “to ensure torture survivors’ right to full reparation with special attention to medical and psychological needs”.