Anti-corruption crackdown in Tibet must focus on human rights abuses

Zhou Yongkang, China's former security czar used the prevailing anti-terror mood or 'war on terror' to engage in widespread and systematic abuse of human rights in Tibet [Photo:]

Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security czar used the prevailing anti-terror mood or ‘war on terror’ to engage in widespread and systematic abuse of human rights in Tibet

As part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, investigators are being sent to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) for disciplinary purposes. They will investigate not only official corruption, the focus of the campaign, but also officials who do not follow the central government’s policy of systematically violating human rights in Tibet. Since Xi Jinping was appointed President of the PRC, he has paired reform and repression. The repression has often been disproportionately harsher and longer lasting than the promised reforms, especially in Tibetan areas. The anti-corruption campaign is not an exception to this rule. However, if the goal of the anti-corruption campaign is to address the causes of social unrest, it is doomed to fail unless the government stops supporting the wanton violation of human rights in Tibet.

On Monday, discipline investigators were sent into the Tibet Autonomous Region [1] to investigate corruption. This is part of an escalation and expansion of the crackdown on systemic corruption within the Chinese Communist Party. After months of speculation [2], the PRC officially began [3] investigating Zhou Yongkang for corruption. Zhou Yongkang is a former member of the standing committee and the highest-ranking official to be openly investigated for a criminal offense since the Cultural Revolution. [4] Earlier this summer, the investigation of two executives of a State owned oil company [5]was also announced. [Read more...]

TCHRD releases two new publications on ‘village democracy’ and UN human rights instruments

Cover of the special report on 'village democracy' in Tibetan

Cover of the special report on ‘village democracy’ in Tibetan

Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaims that ‘all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of law.’ Although the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has signed many UN treaties and conventions, it has consistently failed to implement and abide by them, and has resorted to its domestic laws and regulations to violate the basic and legitimate rights of its citizens.

As a member of the United Nations, the PRC is under legal obligation to educate its citizens, and implement within its territorial boundary, the laws, conventions and treaties of the UN. Instead of raising popular awareness about international human rights law, more emphasis is put on repressive domestic laws promoted and propagated under forced education campaigns such as ‘legal education’ or ‘patriotic education’.

To counter this, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Dharamsala, has come out with two new publications titled “Nyamdrel Gyaltsog Ki Trim Yig Khag” (‘A Collection of United Nations’ Conventions) and “Sota Chen Ki Mangtso” (‘Monitored Democracy’). [Read more...]

‘For the values of democracy and equality’: Remembering Tiananmen Heroes

“For the values of democracy and equality, many great men and women gave up their lives. On this earth beneath the vast sky, although freedom and democracy belong to the entire humanity, they will never belong to those who oppress by practicing dictatorship.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                       ~ Tashi Rabten aka Theurang

Tiananmen protest on 4 June 1989  [Photo:]

Tiananmen protest on 4 June 1989

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protest in Beijing, which saw the participation of over a million Chinese students, workers and professionals. Deng Xiaoping, then the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, ordered 200,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in armored tanks to suppress the non-violent protest. In the wake of the bloody crackdown, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens died, and thousands of them injured brutally. Many also disappeared. The Tiananmen massacre revealed the true nature of the CCP and the PLA to the world: that they do not protect or work for the liberation of the Chinese people – that authoritarian regime survival is more important than human lives. [Read more...]

12 Years Too Many: Release Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on medical parole

Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) observes with deep concern the 12th anniversary of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s arbitrary arrest on 7 April 2002 which eventually led to life imprisonment.

Popularly known as A-Nga Tashi, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a highly-respected lama in Lithang County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham. Rinpoche is renowned for his active involvement in the restoration of Tibetan culture and religion, social welfare activities and his bold statements about repressive Chinese policies in Tibet. On 5 December 2002, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his nephew Lobsang Dhondup were sentenced to death with two years’ reprieve and death sentence respectively. Lobsang Dhondup was executed but Rinpoche’s suspended death sentence was commuted to life due to international pressure. [Read more...]

Goshul Lobsang tortured with pain-inducing injections, leaves a defiant note after untimely death

Goshul Lobsang at his home a few weeks before his death

Goshul Lobsang at his home a few weeks before his death

New information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) indicates that Goshul Lobsang, who recently died of torture injuries, might have received injections designed to cause and exacerbate his pain while he was being tortured in detention. The use of torture methods to increase pain is consistent with other Chinese torture tactics. For example, the Chinese adopted Soviet torture techniques to inflict pain faster.[i]

A source who hails from the same village as Goshul Lobsang told TCHRD that Goshul Lobsang was arrested on 29 June 2010[ii] by Machu County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers. For about 5 months he was subjected to severe torture including pain-inducing injections, and deprived of sleep and food by the interrogation officers in Machu County.

Another source told TCHRD that police officers used sharp-pointed objects such as toothpicks to repeatedly pierce and penetrate into the tops of his finger nails and cuticles.  This stabbing, applied with force and consistency, resulted in severe bleeding, swelling and pain making Goshul Lobsang unable to temporarily use his hands.  [Read more...]

Joint Statement of World Organisation Against Torture and TCHRD on China

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. [Read more...]

Questions abound as UNHRC adopts report on China’s Second UPR

Students for a Free Tibet activists unfurl a banner during China's second UPR in Geneva in October 2013 (EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)

Students for a Free Tibet activists unfurl a banner during China’s second UPR in Geneva in October 2013 (EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)

On 20 March 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Period Review on People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) system allows every State’s human rights record to be reviewed and discussed by other States. The State under review receives recommendations from other States that it either accepts or reject. The UPR is a unique opportunity to hold States publically accountable for their human rights record. States, like China, that want to be seen as protecting human rights put a lot of emphasis on their UPR review.

“China’s strategy during the UPR was to try and equate laws that are not enforced and empty promises with progress on human rights,” said Ms. Tsering Tsomo, the executive director of TCHRD. “The deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet and the recent death of Cao Shunli on 14 March demonstrate that China’s laws and promises have failed to improve people’s lives and protect human dignity, which is the purpose of the human rights system.” [Read more...]

China rejects UNHRC Report on North Korean Crimes Against Humanity

Tibetan monks interrupted a Chinese government-organised media tour in June 2008 at Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. [Photo: AP]

Tibetan monks interrupted a Chinese government-organised media tour in June 2008 at Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. [Photo: AP]

On 7 February 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released a report regarding the human rights situation in North Korea. The chief author of the report was Michael Kirby, a retired Judge of the High Court of Australia.

A Commission of Inquiry was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate “widespread and grave violations of human rights” in North Korea. To accomplish this, the Commission questioned 80 witnesses and experts in public hearings held in four countries. The Commission also conducted over 240 confidential interviews of witnesses and experts who feared reprisals against them or their family from North Korea. The Commission also requested submissions, reviewed previously published findings, and worked with States and international organizations.

Throughout the entire process and despite numerous invitations from the Commission, North Korea refused to cooperate with the Commission. North Korea refused to allow the Commission into their country and did not respond to invitations to participate in the research or drafting of the report. [Read more...]

What Human Rights? Not even the Right to Bathe in Tibet!

khenpo_kartseIn the movie 12 Years a Slave, which recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery was encapsulated in one memorable scene when a slave returns to the cotton plantation with a bar of soap. The slave makes a demand for the simple right to be clean and is severely whipped and beaten for doing so.

Today in Tibet monks, nuns, and family members of Khenpo Kartse, also known as Khenpo Karma Tsewang, are refusing to bathe as a gesture of solidarity. Khenpo Kartse was arrested from his hotel room in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, at 1 am on 7 December 2013. For over three months prison officials have refused to allow Khenpo Kartse to bathe. [Read more...]

UN Expert Group must consider deaths caused by detention in Tibet

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. [Read more...]