Chinese police arbitrarily detain Tibetan monk to prevent self-immolation protest

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Jampa Gelek (Photo: RFA)


Jampa Gelek (Photo: RFA)
Jampa Gelek (Photo: RFA)

Chinese authorities have arbitrarily detained a 23-yr old Tibetan monk because he was suspected of planning to stage a self-immolation protest against the repressive policies in Tibet.

Jampa Gelek, a monk from Tawu Nyitso Monastery, was detained by local Chinese police around 8:24 pm local time on 16 May 2016 while he was taking a walk in the park surrounding Namgyal Stupa in Tawu (Ch: Daofu) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham. At around 10 pm, a group of Chinese police ransacked his monastic residence and the same night he was taken to a detention centre in the prefectural capital of Dartsedo (Ch: Kangding).

Sources with close contacts in Tibet told TCHRD that Jampa Gelek had taken a photo in his room with a huge Tibetan national flag in the background. In addition, the monk had told some friends that he would self immolate for the sake of Tibetan religious and political cause. But his family members had stopped him from committing self-immolation. Local Tibetans believe that Chinese authorities took him into custody to prevent self-immolation protest, which has caused the Chinese government to lose face and deal with mounting criticisms from the international community. Self-immolation protests have exposed the brutal nature of Chinese rule in Tibet where an increasing number of Tibetans from all walks of life are forced to choose death over repression.

Jampa Gelek is a first-year student of the Buddhist Institute at Nyitso Monastery. Son of Tsering (father) and Donley (mother), he hails from Ziye village in Tawu County. He has a younger brother and a sister. In addition to his studies, he used to work as a volunteer teacher holding classes on Tibetan language and traditional knowledge for local Tibetan children.

Chinese police regularly subject Tibetans to arbitrary detention and arrest in order to suppress free expression, religious belief and peaceful dissent. In undermining the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), together considered the International Bill of Human Rights, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) arbitrarily detains Tibetans for inordinate periods without charging them with a crime and without informing the public of their whereabouts. Tibetan detainees are routinely subjected to beatings, torture and other inhumane treatment.

PRC ratified the ICESCR on 27 March 2001, thereby signifying its consent to be bound by the terms of the Convention. However,PRC has yet to ratify the ICCPR and is merely a signatory to this key international treaty. As such, PRC is not bound to the specific provisions of the ICCPR. However, a signature constitutes a preliminary endorsement of the Convention and it obliges PRC to refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.

The arbitrary detention of peaceful Tibetans represents a deterioration of the ICCPR, particularly Article 9, paragraph 1, which requires: “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

Similarly, Article 9, paragraph 3 of the ICCPR stipulates: “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guaran­tees to appear for trial.”

The prolonged detention of Tibetans for arbitrary length is thus incom­patible with Article 9 and requires specific justification and periodic review.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in addition to six other Special Procedures experts, voiced its concern over PRC’s authoritarian practices in Tibet most recently in a 2014 correspondence inquiring on ten Tibetan artists facing arbitrary detention.

In its formal appeal to PRC, the UN Special Procedures experts reminded PRC authorities of Human Rights Council resolution 24/5, and in particular operative paragraph 2, which reminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.

Tibetans face constant threats to their safety and security as a result of PRC’s continued contravention of universal human rights norms. Without more strident international monitoring and enforcement, Chinese authorities will continue to exercise arbitrary detentions against Tibetans with impunity.