Today (June 26) marks the 24th UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

TCHRD stands in solidarity with all victims of torture and joins the global initiatives to eradicate torture in all its forms.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), adopted in 1984, defines torture as “the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering by a public official as a punishment or to obtain a confession.”

It has been ratified by 171 member states. 24, including China has ratified the convention although with reservation to article 20.

China continues to use torture to intimidate, extract confessions and dehumanize Tibetans arbitrarily detained across Tibet.

The use of torture to extract confessions from political detainees was rampant despite prohibitions against it in Chinese Criminal Procedure Law. Since Tibetan detainees are mostly charged with national security crimes, they are held incommunicado for months and sometimes never again found alive. 

Kusho Bagdro, a former political prisoner and author of the book “Hell on earth” recalls in his video message to TCHRD the terrifying methods of torture used by Chinese prison authorities in Tibet.

“The methods of torture they used would horrify the listeners. They applied cattle prods to sensitive parts of the body, including the mouth and genitals; shackled the hands and feet; hung prisoners naked upside down; exposed prisoners to extreme temperatures; and used prisoner’s body for surgical experiments by medical students”.

TCHRD’s 2017 Special Report on ‘Prisoners of Conscience in Tibet’noted other methods of torture China is known to use that includes: “inflicting shocks with electric batons; beating with iron bars, rifle butts, and nail-studded sticks; branding with red-hot shovels; pouring boiling water over prisoners; setting ferocious dogs onto prisoners; deprivation of sleep, food, and water; prolonged strenuous ‘exercise’; long periods of solitary confinement; sexual violence; taunts and threats of torture and death.”

PRC ratified the CAT in 1988, the same year Ven. Bagdro was imprisoned. Ven. Bagdro’s testimony of torture is proof of China’s complete disregard for International Conventions and shared values of humanity. 

On this day last year, UN experts called for decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China, raising concerns regarding a range of issues of grave concern including, collective repression of the population, especially religious and ethnic minorities, in Xinjiang and Tibet.

It noted, “Unlike over 120 States, the Government of China has not issued a standing invitation to UN independent experts to conduct official visits. In the last decade, despite many requests by Special Procedures, the Government has permitted only five visits by independent experts (pertaining to rights involving food, discrimination against women and girls, foreign debt, extreme poverty, and older persons).”

TCHRD calls upon China to ratify Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and allow international inspection by the UNSubcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT).

We remain gravely concerned about the current status of Gō Sherab GyatsoDhi LhadenBangri RinpocheLhundrub Drakpa, among numerous others held in arbitrary, prolonged, incommunicado detention in Tibet.

TCHRD echoes the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)’s 2021 theme ‘Support Life After Torture,’ global efforts calling for an end to the horrific practice of torture and for full rehabilitation for all victims.

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