Tibetan man kills self in detention to avoid custodial torture


During his secret detention in 2012, respected monk Yonten Gyatso had contemplated suicide to escape custodial torture.
During his secret detention in 2012, respected monk Yonten Gyatso had contemplated suicide to escape custodial torture.

A Tibetan man committed suicide after local police detained him in Markham (Ch: Mangkang) County in Chamdo (Ch: Changdu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Media reports quoting Tibetan sources reported the suicide death of Mr Tashi, 30, on 11 March 2016 at Tsangshul Detention Centre in Markham County. Tashi had been detained on an unknown date before 10 March 2016, which was the 57th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day.

Exile Tibetan sources were also quoted as saying that police officers subjected Tashi to severe beatings and torture in detention. Unable to bear the brutal torture, he killed himself on 11 March.

Following Tashi’s suicide, a group of local Tibetans protested in front of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office in Markham County. The PSB officers in turn filmed the protest and later used the video to detain the protesters. Local authorities reportedly ordered all Tibetan men and women engaged in entrepreneurial services outside Markham County to return to their homes in the county within 15 days. It is not known when this order was issued although available information suggests that local authorities had planned a sweeping crackdown on local Tibetans living in Markham County. Chinese government task forces had reportedly been deployed in various areas in the county to investigate and monitor the activities of local Tibetans. All the communication and internet services in the county had been shut down.

TCHRD is unable to immediately confirm details of Tashi’s suicide and the ensuing crackdown. However his detention in the days leading up to the 10 March anniversary is telling. It has become a routine practice for the Chinese authorities to impose extreme restrictions and surveillance on the activities and movements of local Tibetans before and during major political anniversaries and religious festivals.

Torture is widely used in Chinese detention centers to extract forced confessions and to break the spirit of Tibetans who engage peaceful acts of resistance against the Chinese government. Torture methods employed by Chinese detention officers have caused Tibetan detainees to sustain life-threatening injuries, with an increasing number dying in police custody. The brutal torture methods, including psychological torture that requires Tibetan detainees to denounce their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, break the will of many detainees to continue living.

Custodial torture is a common practice employed by interrogation officers and in the past, Tibetan detainees have met with similar fate as Tashi. On 29 March 2012, Gonpo Rinzin, 25, killed himself before being detained by the Chinese armed police in Drango (Ch: Luhuo) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Gonpo had participated in the 23 January 2012 protest in Drango County, which was suppressed by security forces shooting into the crowd.

Yonten Gyatso, 37, a respected senior monk from Khashi Gyephel Samtenling Monastery in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) County contemplated taking his own life on many occasions while being detained and tortured by local State Secrets Bureau Officers at a detention centre in Chengdu. He had been subjected to more than eight months of secret detention before he was sentenced to seven years in prison on 18 June 2012.

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