Tag: torture

Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit:Wikimedia Commons

On 24 August, 40 Chinese paramilitary trainees were hospitalized in what is being described as a brawl between the drill instructors and their high school aged trainees. Social media in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was divided over whether to blame the incident on the drill instructors or the trainees. Regardless of who is blamed for the brawl it demonstrated that even trainees and other members of the security organizations are treated brutally by security organizations. A similar incident of abuse of trainees went viral in December 2013. In that case, a video showed eight People’s Armed Police officers beating five trainees.

By the standards of how Tibetans and other ethnic minorities are treated, these events are relatively minor. Less than two weeks before the brawl, Chinese paramilitary forces fired live ammunition into a crowd of Tibetans protesting the detention of a respected village leader. Five Tibetans died after being shot, detained, denied medical care, and tortured.

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DVD cover of 'Through Flesh and Bones: Stories of Torture and Survival in Tibet'
DVD cover of ‘Through Flesh and Bones: Stories of Torture and Survival in Tibet’

Today, 26 June 2014, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) joins the international community in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day, we honor and support those who have suffered unjust, cruel and degrading forms of physical and mental torture.  We also express our deep concern over the use of torture against persons exercising their basic rights and freedoms.

We at TCHRD reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling the goal of the UN General Assembly Resolution 52/149 passed 12 December 1997, which proclaimed 26 June as ‘the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.’ That goal is the total eradication of torture and the effective implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.

As declared by the United Nations, torture is a crime under international law. It is a crime against humanity, ‘one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings,’ because torture aims to annihilate the victim’s personality, denying him or her the inherent dignity of human being. Torture strikes at the core of the physical and psychological integrity of a human being. Furthermore, the practice of torture often triggers heightened levels of human rights violations such as disappearances, extra judicial killings and genocide.

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Goshul Lobsang at his home soon after his release on 'medical parole'
Goshul Lobsang at his home soon after his release on ‘medical parole’

A Tibetan political prisoner released on ‘medical parole’ before the completion of his sentence has died after succumbing to torture injuries he suffered at the hands of prison authorities.

Goshul Lobsang, 42, died on 19 March 2014 at his home at Bhelban (Ch: Awancang) Township in Machu (Ch: Maqu) County in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.

“The Chinese police and prison authorities brutally tortured him in detention and in prison. He suffered death-threatening injuries as a result. Since the authorities feared that he might die in prison, they decided to release him on medical parole, before he was to complete his full sentence. He was released on 27 October 2013,” said a source with contacts in Tibet.

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Created in 1985, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is today the main coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGO) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the main coalition of international non-governmental organisations fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Speaking for itself and TCHRD, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) read a joint statement (below) during the 25th session of the Human Rights Council condemning the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) failure to sign the optional protocols to the Convention Against Torture and to prevent arbitrary detention, torture, and the killing of prisoners.  The statement specifically focused on the gap between the PRC’s rhetoric and its practice. Despite the many well-documented cases, the PRC continues to deny that there is any torture, arbitrary detention, or persecution of human rights defenders.

The joint statement also mentioned the death of Cao Shunli, a human rights defender who died on 14 March 2014 after she was denied medical care while in imprisoned by the PRC. Other NGOs also tried to discuss Cao Shunli’s death and Chinese Human Rights Defenders tried to hold a minute of silence to honor Cao Shunli, who submitted documents on the PRC’s human rights progress to the Human Rights Council before her abduction in September 2013. The PRC was able to delay the session and block the minute of silence.

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Cao Shunli: Defiant till the end (Photo: Reuters)
Cao Shunli: Defiant till the end (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli (曹顺利) died in a Chinese military hospital on 14 March 2014. Only her family was allowed to view her body. Her brother Cao Yunli said he could not take a second look at his sister’s body that showed signs of her mistreatment during approximately five and half months in detention.

The story of Cao Shunli’s arrest, torture, and death follows the same pattern as the death of Tibetans during detention. She disappeared in September 2013 and appeared in police custody in October 2013 when she was formally arrested and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Before her detention Cao Shunli was in poor health and during her detention she was denied medical care. On 20 February 2014, Cao Shunli was transferred to a military hospital in extremely critical condition. She received a medical parole on 27 February 2014 and died fifteen days later.

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khenpo_kartseThe Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has received information concerning the status and treatment of Khenpo Kartse, also known as Khenpo Karma Tsewang, who was arrested at 1 am on 7 December 2013. Khenpo Kartse is a popular senior religious figure and well respected for his social work and the promotion and protection of Tibetan language, culture and religion. He is the abbot of Jhapa Monastery in Nangchen (Ch: Nángqiān) County in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

Thousands of supporters of Khenpo Kartse staged a five hour-long sit-in protesting his arrest and demanding an explanation for his arrest. Sixteen monks were arrested during these protests. The last monk was released on 21 January 2014. Despite the sit-in and assurances from the local Monastery Management Committee, Khenpo Kartse was not released and his detention, which has now lasted over three months, has only been justified in the most vague terms. In just over three months of detention, Khenpo Kartse has been subjected to an enforced disappearance, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

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A 2001 of Geshe Ngawang Jamyang.
A 2001 photo of Geshe Ngawang Jamyang who died in police custody less than a month after his arrest in December 2013.

On 28 January 2014 the Intergovernmental Expert Group on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners will meet for four days in Brasilia, Brazil. The United Nations General Assembly created the Expert Group to update the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), which was drafted in the 1950s.  The SMR is a set of rules that outline good principles and practices for the treatment of prisoners and management of prison facilities. The SMR allow for variation depending on legal, social, economic, and geographic conditions. The SMR is not legally binding but it has been widely accepted and helped shaped many States’ national legislation, including those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The original SMR prohibited the use of physical punishments and all forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. At the meeting in Brazil the Expert Group will consider proposed changes to the SMR that will increase transparency in prisons.[1] The proposed revisions require deaths during detention or soon after of a prisoner be investigated by an impartial body to ensure that the deaths were not caused by prison officials.

In the People’s Republic of China, prisoners are often subjected to physical punishments, torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. When Geshe Sonam Phuntsok[2] was sent to prison for initiating a life-long prayer offering for the Dalai Lama, he was a healthy 48-year-old monk. When his family visited him in prison, Geshe Sonam Phuntsok had lost weight, was semiconscious, and was unable to move properly. When he was released five years later, Geshe Sonam Phuntsok was hospitalized. Geshe Sonam Phuntsok’s treatment in prison left his body broken and he died less than three and a half years after his release.

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Nyima Dakpa Kyeri in a photo taken in early 1990s.
Nyima Dakpa Kyeri in a photo taken in early 1990s.

Nyima Dakpa Kyeri was a monk at Tawu Nyitso Monastery in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. As a monk he studied among other things Tibetan history. Studying Tibetan history showed Nyima Dakpa how life in Tibet had been before the Chinese invasion. His studies took him to a time when Tibet was a strong, powerful empire. When he was not studying, Nyima Dakpa lived in a Tibet subject to Chinese atrocities. Nyima Dakpa had to act and make the disparity between the two known.

Starting in 1998 and into 1999, Nyima Dakpa posted fliers calling for Tibet to be free from the Chinese occupation. He posted seven fliers before he was arrested in Kardze. Then the beatings started. The authorities beat Nyima Dakpa until he thought of them as ‘devils’. They beat him until he confessed to posting the fliers. Then they beat him more. Nyima Dakpa was beaten until he lost consciousness and his leg broke. Then he was sent to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province for sentencing.

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Jigme Gyatso before his incarceration and torture in Chinese prison
Jigme Gyatso before his incarceration and torture in prison

On 3 April 2013, after 17 years Jigme Gyatso was released from prison. He entered prison a strong and healthy 35 year-old and left with weak eyesight, heart complications and kidney damage that kept him from walking upright.  Eight years before his release Jigme Gyatso met the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who strongly recommended Jigme Gyatso be released because his conviction for “endangering state security” by creating an illegal organization was based on information extracted by torture. During his 17 years imprisonment, he was electrocuted with electric batons and brutally beaten.  Today, three months after Jigme Gyatso’s long-awaited release from prison, is the International Day in Support of Torture Victims as Jigme Gyatso struggles with his broken body to live again.

International Day in Support of Torture Victims commemorates the entry into force of the Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment (or Convention Against Torture) on 26 June 1987 with the goal of eradicating torture.

No act, except for slavery, has been prohibited as unanimously and repeatedly as torture.  The international community recognizes that the prohibition of torture, like genocide and slavery, is a jus cogens norm, a preemptory norm of international law from which no derogation is permitted.  The universal rejection of torture forces torturers to deny its existence and hide their victims from the world by placing them in “black sites” and secret detention facilities or denying their existence.

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A long-serving Tibetan political prisoner, Dawa Gyaltsen, now about 47, was released two years earlier than the expected date for exhibiting “good behaviour”, according to information received by TCHRD from exile Tibetan sources having local contacts in Tibet.

He was serving an 18-year prison term when he was released sometime last month. The exact release date cannot be ascertained immediately. The former bank accountant was first detained for distributing and pasting Tibetan independence leaflets.

There has been no statement yet from Chinese authorities regarding Dawa Gyaltsen’s release two years before the expected date. However, Tibetan sources say Dawa Gyaltsen (Ch: Dawa Jianzan) is in poor health, with the limp in one of his legs having worsened over the years due to ill-treatment and torture in prison for 17 years.

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A prominent Tibetan political prisoner, Jigme Gyatso, 52, was released recently after completing his 17 years’ prison term, according to exile Tibetan sources.

After his release, he is said to be in poor health struggling with multiple medical problems including weak eyesight, heart complications, kidney disorder and difficulty walking: all unmistakable signs that he had undergone years of torture, mistreatment and beatings during his imprisonment.

In April 2009, TCHRD issued an urgent statement calling for Jigme Gyatso’s release on medical grounds, after learning that Gyatso was seriously ill.[i] TCHRD’s concerns were based on the long history of Gyatso’s mistreatment and torture in detention centres and prisons in Tibet. Moreover, in February 2009, when relatives met Gyatso at Drapchi Prison Hospital, he appeared very frail and was suffering from a kidney problem. He could only walk with his back bended.

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