In the recent few months after the outbreak of the major protests across the Tibetan plateau since March 10, 2008, a few more cases of, particularly, the enforced and involuntary disappearance of Tibetans are beginning to surface. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), there are at least more than a thousand Tibetans whose current whereabouts and well being remains completely unknown to their family members and their affiliated monasteries.
The whereabouts of 80 monks of Drepung Monastery located on the outskirt of Lhasa City, still remains unknown after months of clampdown following the March protest. Drepung Monastery was one of the prominent centre of political dissent in the past and featured prominently in the recent March protest. According to reliable sources, many of the visiting monks housed in the three biggest monasteries in Tibet are mostly from Amdo and Kham regions (outside “TAR”) who represent a substantial chunk of percentage in the three major monasteries and does not possess the official registration card. The Chinese authorities in Tibet have particularly targeted those monks from outside “TAR” with expulsion. Lobsang, a monk of Drepung Monastery, hailed from Lhatse County, Shigatse Prefecture “TAR”, disappeared from the monastery following the March protest in Tibetan capital. There is no information on his whereabouts so far.
In another instance, a batch of 1995 and former student of SOS Tibetan Children’s Village School, Migmar Dhondup, is known to have gone missing after the March protest in Lhasa. Migmar Dhondup, a commerce student who graduated in 1995 and was originally from Dingri County (Ch: Tingri Xian), Shigatse Prefecture, “Tibet Autonomous Region” (‘TAR’). According to the confirmed information received from reliable sources, like many other returnees, Migmar Dhondup, work in Lhasa as tourist guide before his disappearance during the March Lhasa protest. There is no clear information of whether he participated in the protest or not but his family member and friends has not heard of him since the Lhasa protest in March.
Similarly, Thabkhey and Tsundue of Labrang Monastery who defiantly briefed in front of the state managed foreign media tour in Sangchu County (Ch: Xiahe Xian) in Gansu Province, “TAP” on 7 April 2008 were not seen since their sudden disappearance after putting a daring act in front of the visiting foreign medias. Local residents fear that the security personnel secretly lifted them for their daring act. Although the family members of the monks approached the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) headquarters regarding their whereabouts, however, the authorities feigned ignorance about the duo. Till date, no information on their whereabouts or to which detention centre have been taken was made known to their family members or their affiliated monastery.
Despite numerous cases of enforced and involuntary disappearances of Tibetans since series of protests from March this year, a very few cases of emerged only after months of their arbitrary detention. In one case, the death of a disappeared person surfaced only after two of her colleagues were later sentenced by the court. Guru, 25 years old nun of Samtenling a.ka. Watak Nunnery in Drango County, Kardze “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’) Sichuan Province involved in June protest in Drango County disappeared and the news of her death since her disappearance came to light only after two of her colleagues Tsering Tso, 27 and Ugyen Lhamo 32 were sentenced 2 years’ imprisonment by Drango County Intermediate People’s Court. The death of Guru shed a light on the risk involved and calls for the immediate protection of all persons from enforced and involuntary disappearance.
TCHRD expresses its deepest concern over the fates of those Tibetans who were arbitrarily detained and disappeared since the March protest in Tibet. The Centre calls for the International communities to press for the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to disclose and make public the whereabouts and their status. The Centre also appeals to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (UNWGEID) to review this pressing issue and seek its intervention on the disappeared Tibetans. TCHRD also calls for an end to the sufferings brought about by this cruel practice used to silence the political dissidents and their family members inside Tibet.
TCHRD reaffirms the right of every person to life, liberty and dignity and therefore, the right not be subjected to enforced disappearance. The core value of one’s existence is to live freely without prejudices, discrimination, and harm as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Enforced disappearance does not only violate these basic human rights by physically removing a person from the protection of law but it also denies the families of the disappeared person the right to know the truth and to seek justice.
The government of the PRC has not yet sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Disappearance adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 20 December 2006. TCHRD calls the government of PRC to sign and ratify this important international convention and pass a domestic law to criminalize enforced disappearance