A new “Re-education-through-Labour” (Ch:laojiao) camp has been established in Senge Township, Ngari County, Tibet Autonomous Region (“TAR”). The camp which will accommodate about two hundred inmates became functional in July 2004 when the construction work was completed.
According to Tibet Daily on 21 July 2004, “The “Re-education-through-Labour” camp located on the Fren Xin Highway on the 4300 Meter high Senge Township in Ngari County has now become functional. The Development Department invested eight million Yuan in building the new camp. The camp can hold two hundred inmates and is 40 thousand square feet in size. The 1760 Km distance between Lhasa City and Ngari is very long and is not secure in transporting people to the “Re-education-through-Labour” camp. The Tibet Autonomous Region (“TAR”) Law Enforcement Department, in an attempt to establish social stability in Ngari Prefecture and to improve the economic status of the Tibetans, have communicated to the concerned national department and in June 2003, the State Development Authority sanctioned eight million Yuan and work formally began on the “Re-education-through-Labour” camp in Ngari region. The newly established “Re-education-through-Labour” Camp will bring social stability in Ngari Prefecture.”
TCHRD considers the new “Re-education-through-Labour” facility to implement the government’s hard-line policy in cracking down on fleeing Tibetan refugees and suppressing political dissidence in the region. Ngari falls in the route of Tibetans fleeing Tibet and those returning from India. With the newly established facility, the authorities will be able to crack down on the Tibetans on a massive scale.
There are two fully functional “Re-education through-Labour” camps in the TAR. Trisam Re-education-through-Labour camp was established in January 1992 in the west of Lhasa. The Tibetans who participated in the late 1980s demonstrations were imprisoned in Trisam. It held seventy Tibetan inmates in its initial years. In January 1998, another “Re-education -through-Labour” camp was established in Zithang near Chamdo County, Chamdo Prefecture, TAR. Ngawang Senge, Chime Lobsang, Gonpo, and Tashi Nyima from Drakyab Monastery were the first to be imprisoned in the camp.
In accordance with Chinese Administrative Punishment Law, an imprisonment term in the “Re-education-through-Labour” camp ranges from six months to three years with a further one year extension in failing to reform. A person can be convicted by a local Public Security Bureau (“PSB”) or by the Re-education-through-Labour Management Committee without a court trial. Although it falls in prison category according to international law, the Chinese authorities do not consider the labour camps as prisons.
In recent years, the Chinese authorities have been increasingly using the labour camps to imprison Tibetans with political incidents and fleeing Tibetans. The new “Re-education-through-Labour” Camp in Ngari region is another facility being used to strike hard and curb the flow of Tibetans into exile and Tibetans returning to Tibet from the Nepalese border. The movement of Tibetans will be restricted by the government striking hard on the people who dare to undertake the journey to freedom.