The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has been closely monitoring the situation inside Tibet particularly since 10 March 2008 when the first peaceful protest led by Tibetan Buddhist monks broke up in Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day.
For the past more than two weeks, the exact figures on the number of arrest, death, injury or disappeared from the violent crackdowns during protests in various parts of Tibet is difficult to ascertain due to various circumstances such as censorship of information, lack of immediate and on the ground assessment, absence of third party fact finding mission and free media reporting in Chinese administered Tibet. However, TCHRD has been able to filter considerable information based on eyewitnesses accounts, evidences and information given to the Centre by brave and conscious Tibetans inside Tibet. The information available to TCHRD has been reported to various human rights monitoring organisations, media and concerned UN bodies after our meticulous research and verification.
According to eyewitnesses’ accounts and testimonies received by TCHRD, so far at least 79 Tibetans are known to have died as a direct result of brutal crackdown by the Chinese security forces. Over 1200 Tibetans have so far been arrested under various circumstances and around more than 100 Tibetans disappeared. The figure of death, arrest, and disappearance cases of Tibetans are mounting each day with more information surfacing from Tibet.
Following the issuance of public notice by the “TAR” law enforcement authorities viz, Higher People’s Court, the People’s Procuratorate and the regional Public Security Bureau (PSB) on 15 March for protesters to give themselves in before midnight of 17 March, the state-run official mouthpiece, Xinhua, stated that, over 170 Tibetans “surrendered” in Lhasa city by 20 March (7:00 PM Beijing Standard Time). Another 94 Tibetans “surrendered” in Phenpo Lhundup County, Lhasa Municipality, “TAR” according to the official mouthpiece report released on 19 March.
Around 16 March 2008, Lhasa PSB officers arrested Ngawang Namgyal, a former political prisoner and a former monk of Drepung Monastery, from his residence during mid night raid on alleged charges of ‘inciting and supporting the Lhasa protest’. There is no further information on the condition of his well being at the moment.
On 20 March, the Lhasa City PSB has issued a “wanted” list of 21 people as the main instigators or offenders of the recent string of protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. Of which the photo identities of 14 people including monks were issued. There has been no information whether they have been arrested or are still at large.
The official mouthpiece, Xinhua, also claimed that over 381 Tibetans have so far “surrendered” in Ngaba County (Ch: Aba Xian), “TAP”, Sichuan Province, after the issuance of “surrender notice” on 20 March 2008 which was jointly issued by the law enforcement authorities of Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture'” (‘TAP’) Intermediate People’s Court, Procuratorate, and Public Security Bureau. According to sources within Tibet, many protestors especially the monks, who were involved in the peaceful protest in Ngaba County have fled their monasteries and home to avoid arrest by the security forces which has been hunting down the protesters and ransacking their homes at will. Many of people from the area were known to have disappeared since the protest broke out on 14 March.
TCHRD doubts the very nature of “surrender notice” issued by the Chinese authorities in “TAR” and non -“TAR” areas of Tibet. TCHRD believes “surrender is a willingness on the part of person who surrender under normal circumstance and not under the duress, threat by the authority in power by inducing in the minds of people that if they do not surrender, they would suffer far more serious repercussions’. Therefore, the Centre considers the issuance of public notices to surrender protesters as “threat in disguise” to intimidate and create fear psychosis on the minds of highly suppressed people of the region.
As of today, around 645 Tibetans from various parts of Tibet have “surrendered” to the Chinese authorities following the official issuance of surrender notice. Of which only few were known to have been released without formal charges. Given China’s past record in dealing with suspects in custody, TCHRD expresses its deepest fears that those who “voluntarily surrendered” or were arrested following demonstrations in various parts of Tibet are expected to face intense interrogation and grilling session in detention centres. It is highly probable that the detainees will be dealt with torture and extreme inhumane treatment in the detention centres to extract confession and related information. Torture is endemic and a regular feature in the network of Chinese administered prisons and detention centres. TCHRD is highly concerned about the well being of those arrested after the recent protests, particularly those suspected of being the ‘instigators’ and fears that the authorities will adopt extreme measures to curb the Tibetan sentiments in order to evade international criticism on her appalling human rights record in Tibet.
The Chinese authorities should guarantee free and fair trial for those who were arrested, who gave themselves in or detained following the protest. With total absence of legal representations, due process and other legal procedures, it is highly certain that many fundamental human rights of Tibetan detainees will be violated.
According to information, hundreds of military trucks, tanks and personnel have swamped the entire area of Lhasa, northeastern parts of Tibet particularly in Ngaba County, where maximum number of protests, arrest and death were registered.
TCHRD will submit the cases of those Tibetans killed, arrested and disappeared in Tibet to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and its relevant thematic mandates for urgent action. TCHRD appeals to the international community to urgently show their solidarity and act for the arrested peaceful Tibetan protesters and innocent arrestees.