On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy organised a panel discussion featuring three former political prisoners and a human rights researcher moderated by the Centre’s Tibetan researcher, Nyiwoe. The session started with an explanatory video delving into the experiences of Tibetans subjected to enforced disappearance. Subsequently, TCHRD’s executive director, Ms. Tenzin Dawa, underscored instances of enforced disappearance, citing significant cases like that of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, abducted after being recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama, and referencing UN experts’ concerns. The discussion commenced with former political prisoners succinctly sharing their grim experiences of torture and enforced disappearances. Mr. Gendun Rinchen recounted his arrest for disseminating human rights information as a tour guide, while Mr. Ngawang Woebar was arrested for protesting in Lhasa. Former prisoner Geshe Tsering Dorje described torture methods and the dire treatment of Tibetan prisoners, while Mr Wangden Kyab emphasised China’s ongoing violations of its constitution and international obligations.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the continued persecution of the well-known Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who had been released from prison in 2021 after serving five years’ prison term on the trumped-up charges of “inciting separatism”.
Since his release from unjust imprisonment, Tashi Wangchuk has faced persistent restrictions and limitations on his movement and activities even as he continued to advocate for the promotion and protection of the Tibetan language.
The latest persecution faced by the Tibetan language rights advocate demonstrates that Chinese authorities will go to any lengths including engaging in mobster-style tactics to silence human rights defenders and activists.
On the evening of 19 August, while travelling from Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, to Darlag (Ch: Dari) County in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, he was followed by a vehicle. Subsequently, local police issued an order preventing local hotels from accommodating him.
The release of writer Dhi Lhaden after four years of imprisonment raises concerns regarding his physical and mental well-being, exacerbated by the limited accessibility of information about his current situation. Having endured two years of incommunicado detention since 2019, he was charged with “disrupting social order,” a common accusation against human rights activists, and secretly sentenced to four years in 2021. Despite his expected release this year, it was delayed by two months, perceived as a result of cautious measures by Chinese authorities to control information flow. Lhaden’s unjust trial, preceded by isolation, potential coercion, and torture, further adds complexity. As a former monk and writer, his works illuminated the Tibetan perspective, encompassing hopes, wishes, and the overall plight.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) submitted a UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report ahead of the fourth periodic review of the People’s Republic of China in January 2024.
The submission outlined a number of concerns and recommendations on specific human rights issues, including repression of Tibetan Buddhism, systematic attacks on the Tibetan language, freedom of expression and association, denial of legal rights of detainees and prisoners, and torture.
TCHRD will conduct a series of advocacy and lobbying activities in the months leading up to the review, targeting embassies in New Delhi and permanent missions in Geneva, respectively, so that States will raise the issues during the interactive dialogue with the PRC government.
The Chinese authorities are systematically erasing the court verdicts of Tibetans charged with the vaguely worded and broadly defined crimes of
“endangering state security,” wiping them from public databases. This unlawful practice extends beyond Tibet’s Autonomous Region, resulting in secret trials and sentences for numerous Tibetans without any acknowledgement or information about their imprisonment. Human Rights Watch reports shed light on the absence of records for suspected state security cases involving Tibetan monks and the silence of Chinese state media.
The court verdict of Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language activist released in January 2021 after serving five years in prison on a trumped-up charge of “inciting separatism,” cannot be found on China’s national database of court verdicts. Equally troubling is that the persecuted activist was not given a copy of his verdict upon his release from prison.
Prominent Tibetan activist A-nya Sengdra, the victim of unjust imprisonment for nearly five years on politically motivated charges, continues to endure further injustices.
Renowned for his campaigns against corruption and environmental degradation in his hometown, Sengdra and his eight companions received a seven-year sentence on 6 December 2021, more than three years after his detention and torture at the hands of local Public Security Bureau officers in Gade County.
Despite relentless efforts by his lawyer, Li Qilei, to appeal the verdict, the Chinese courts have consistently dismissed these appeals. Even the recent effort to inquire about his appeal case faced hostility and uncooperative personnel at the Sixth Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court.
Every year on 26 June, the United Nations observes the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, explicitly focusing on torture’s lasting generational impact and consequences. Recognising torture as the deliberate infliction of severe physical and mental suffering without justification, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as an urgent call to eliminate this abhorrent practice, serving as a platform to promote the eradication of torture and to urge governments worldwide, including China, to fulfil their obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture. Recent cases, such as the severe torture endured by a Tibetan monk and the testimonies of Dorje Tashi, shed light on the systematic use of torture by Chinese authorities to suppress freedom of expression and assembly. These distressing incidents underscore the pressing need for the international community to take a firm stand and demand an immediate end to all acts of torture against Tibetans in Tibet.
On the 28th anniversary of the Chinese government’s arbitrary detention and subsequent enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, widely recognised by his lay name Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reiterates its call to the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release the Panchen Lama, his family members, and all the Tibetan political prisoners. TCHRD emphasises that without ensuring the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights, including freedom of belief and religion, Chinese authorities can never hope to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans, let alone earn any legitimacy for its repressive policies and campaigns in Tibet.
On 3 May, Gonpo Kyi shared a video condemning the unjust verdict against her brother, Dorje Tashi, stating that leaders do not follow the law while the masses are subject to punitive measures. Despite peaceful protests, such as wearing a shirt with slogan and holding a copy of the verdict, authorities detained and physically abused her. In response, Gonpo Kyi stated that she would continue to protest until justice was served. Her brother’s case has been marred with allegations of false conviction and judicial irregularities, and despite numerous appeals, he remains behind bars for false loan fraud charges. The Chinese authorities’ repeated detention and intimidation of peaceful protesters like Gonpo Kyi violate fundamental human rights.
A Tibetan teacher detained on 10 April for expressing joy at seeing the recent video of His Holiness the Dalai Lama interacting with a young Indian boy on social media has been released from detention but placed under house arrest, and his employment has been terminated. He was held incommunicado for two weeks.
Earlier this year, Chinese authorities enforced the “Model 2 education system” in Tibetan primary schools in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, replacing all Tibetan medium education systems with Chinese medium. Under this system, all subjects except the Tibetan language are taught in Chinese, which critics argue is a means to destroy the Tibetan language and culture. The plan to introduce this system in the spring of 2020 was temporarily abandoned when Chinese authorities faced widespread criticism. Tibetan writer and public intellectual Thupten Lodoe (Sabuchey), 34, was among the prominent critics of the policy,