On the 38th anniversary of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, TCHRD remembers all victims of enforced disappearance inside Tibet and calls on China to immediately ratify the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (‘Convention’).
The suffering of the victims of enforced disappearance is long and arduous. It robs the victim, family members, and the community of a range of internationally protected rights, inter alia the right to life, truth, a legal personality, fair trial, humane condition of detention, and right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
TCHRD has recorded almost 40 known cases of enforced disappearances in the last three years despite severe restrictions on information sharing.
Enforced Disappearance is a non-derogable offense. Article 1(2) of the convention provides that “No circumstances whatsoever, whether a threat of war, a state of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked to justify enforced disappearances”.
Yet China continues to use enforced disappearances to intimidate and break persons it deems threats to “state security” and “social stability”.
In the days preceding and following the recent centenary celebration of the Chinese Communist Party and the 70th anniversary of the so-called “peaceful liberation” of Tibet, many Tibetans have been subjected to arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance under the campaign to crack down on ‘fake’ news and ‘illegal’ online activities, and the perennial national security and social stability campaigns.
In its 2020 Annual report, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) raised concerns over the liuzhi system, a new custodial system in China over Communist Party members and government workers that is completely outside judicial control as well as by the continued use of ‘Residential Surveillance at Designated Location’.
For over two decades, TCHRD has reported and documented the cases of enforced disappearances of lamas, monks, nuns, intellectuals, writers, artists, farmers, community leaders, and students the majority of whom were labeled as “national security” suspects, allegedly for “disclosing state secrets” or endangering state security.”
Among the recent victims of enforced disappearance are Norsang and Lhadar from Tachen Township in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) City, Tibet Autonomous Region. They were detained for resisting forced patriotic education in 2019 in the run-up to the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
Norsang, 36, was forcibly detained by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in September 2019 and Lhadar, 37, in October 2019.
When the news of their disappearance surfaced in May 2020, TCHRD submitted an urgent appeal to the WGEID to address their cases. The WGEID discussed the cases at its 122nd session and transmitted them to China on 2 November 2020 calling for information on the fate and whereabouts of the two.
In May 2021, it was learned that Norsang had died in custody a week after his detention in 2019. A reliable source informed TCHRD that he was subjected to severe beatings and torture, which caused his death. The news of detention and death was delayed by months and years owing to the prevailing restrictions on all forms of communication in the region.
Tibetans continue to disappear every year, crippling the family life and community cohesion both already being dismantled and driven to edge in all respects.
TCHRD echoes the UN Secretary General’s call on Tuesday to all States to ratify the convention and work with the Committee on Enforced Disappearance and the WGEID.
China tops the list of states that urgently need to ratify this crucial international human rights instrument. Both Article 73 and Article 83 of the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law enable enforced disappearance and therefore must be replaced with internationally acceptable procedural safeguards for suspects of ‘endangering state security’ and ‘terrorism’.
We demand that China release all Tibetan political dissidents subjected to enforced disappearance and notify the families of their whereabouts and conditions.