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) duirng 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...]

Extrajudicial detention still a major issue despite RTL abolition

Diary written by a detainee and smuggled out of Masanjia RTL. The story of Masanjia RTL became a sensation in PRC and was one of the most popular news stories on the PRC’s top four news websites. China quickly censored the news and shuttered Lens Magazine which published the story.

Diary written by a detainee and smuggled out of Masanjia RTL. The story of Masanjia RTL became a sensation in PRC and was one of the most popular news stories on the PRC’s top four news websites. China quickly censored the news and shuttered Lens Magazine which published the story. [Photo: Seeingredinchina.com]

On Saturday 28 December 2013, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee voted to abolish Re-education Through Labor (RTL; Ch: laojiao).  This fulfills the promise the People’s Republic of China made in the 3rd Plenum Decision on 15 November 2013 to abolish the 56 year old Chinese system of gulags that had been used to imprison people in forced labor camps for up to four years.

When the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced the abolition of RTL, it stated that it was because changes made to Chinese laws had made RTL redundant and it had fulfilled its historic mission.  This justification fails to recognize the fundamental problems inherent in RTL.  It ignores the substantial criticism of RTL for being an illegal system of arbitrary detention, forced labor, and torture.  Internationally, numerous States, NGOs, and international organizations, including the United Nations criticized RTL for violating international human rights law.  [Read more...]

Mao’s legacy in Tibet

Mao ZedongOn 26 December 2013, China held a grand celebration to commemorate the 120th birthday of Mao Zedong (毛澤東). This involves a careful balance for Xi Jinping and other members of the Chinese Communist Party, who hope to exploit Mao Zedong’s rhetoric and status without endorsing his policies or ideology, both of which are contrary to the PRC’s current policies and announced reforms.

In Tibet, there is no contradiction between Mao Zedong’s legacy and his policies. Both were brutal and led to mass arrests, death, and destruction in Tibet. While the PRC quietly distanced itself from some of Mao Zedong’s worst policies after his death in 1976, many continue to cast a shadow over Tibet.

For the next 26 years since PRC’s invasion of Tibet in 1949, Tibetans were subjected to horrific, inhumane conditions. On 23 May 1980, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) publicly apologized for the failed policies that made conditions in Tibet worse than in 1959 and that the then-party general secretary Hu Yaobang accused the Chinese cadres of throwing the money entrusted to them to help Tibetans into the Lhasa River. Despite this acknowledgement, many of the most brutal and destructive policies from Mao’s rule still continue today. [Read more...]

Video exposé of PAP violence reinforces Tibetan grievances

PAP soldiers arrive in Diru County in October 2013 to clamp down on protests staged by Tibetans. (Photo: RFA)

PAP soldiers arrive in Diru County in October 2013 to clamp down on protests staged by Tibetans. (Photo: RFA)

Earlier this year, TCHRD released a manual from the People’s Armed Police (PAP) that described how many members of the PAP are suffering from nightmares and flashbacks as a result of the treatment they inflicted upon Tibetans in 2008.  Now, a video of eight senior PAP firefighters beating five young recruits in Inner Mongolia has gone viral in the PRC.

The over 15-minute long video shows the young PAP officers being beaten while forced to stand at attention.  They are slapped, punched and kicked.  One victim was kicked by two of his abusers while he lay on the ground.  Others are kneed, knocked against a wall, and have their heads slammed against the wall.  The senior members of the PAP also beat the victims with belts and sticks that they broke over the victim’s heads.  After seven minutes some of the victims clearly had trouble getting back to their feet and standing. [Read more...]