Amnesty International has said that the year 2001 witnessed the continuation of severe restrictions on the freedom of speech and religion of the Tibetan people. In its The Amnesty International Report 2002 (covering events from January to December 2001), Amnesty said reports of torture and ill treatment of Tibetans continued and there were over 250 prisoners of conscience. The report was released on May 28, 2002.

Asserting that there cannot be a trade off between human rights and security, Amnesty International outlined human rights violations in 152 countries in its report.

Following is the full text of the section dealing with the situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

“Human rights violations against Tibetan Buddhists and nationalists continued in Tibet. Over 250 prisoners of conscience, many of them monks and nuns, were known to remain imprisoned. The ”patriotic education campaign”, launched by the Chinese authorities in 1996 to control monasteries and nunneries and undermine the influence of the exiled Dalai Lama, continued, as did restrictions on religious freedom, which had been extended to the population at large in recent years. Some monasteries and nunneries were closed down by the authorities, and monks and nuns expelled. Reports continued of torture and ill treatment of detainees and harsh prison conditions. Many Tibetan prisoners suffered health problems because of poor food and sanitation, harsh working conditions or beatings. Arbitrary arrests and unfair trials also continued.

Migmar, a Tibetan woman, was reportedly sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in May by Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court after being arrested by Public Security Bureau officials while watching a video of the Dalai Lama at her home.”

“The universality of human rights is facing the strongest challenge yet. Double-standards and selectivity are becoming the norm,” said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

A number of governments rushed through legislation and other “anti-terrorism” measures in the name of security. These measures include indefinite detention without trial, special courts based on secret evidence, or cultural and religious restrictions — sometimes creating shadow criminal justice systems. There was a greater reluctance by governments to criticize others’ domestic policies.

“Security cannot and must not take precedence over human rights. The biggest danger to human rights is when political and economic interests are allowed to drive the human rights agenda,” stated Ms Khan.

The Amnesty International Report 2002 (covering events in 2001) documented extrajudicial executions in 47 countries; judicial executions in 31 countries; “disappearances” in 35 countries; cases of torture and ill treatment in 111 countries and prisoners of conscience in at least 56 countries. However, the organization believes that the true figures are much higher.