As the Olympic torch relay approaches Lhasa, the Tibetan plateau remains sealed off, and thousands of Tibetans are unaccounted for following the crackdown since March 10. There is an intense climate of fear across Tibet. Severe restrictions have been put into place in Lhasa over the past two weeks, and there is new evidence of the torture of many of those detained. Tibetans who attempt to send information outside the country are in danger of arrest and imprisonment following the most significant uprising against Chinese rule in more than half a century, which began with protests by monks in Lhasa and Qinghai on March 10, the 49th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day. Mobile phones have been seized and internet connections blocked.
The authorities have emphasized the importance of “patriotic education” in the buildup to Olympics, saying that it is essential to ensure “security and stability” during the progress of the “sacred Olympic flame”. People’s Armed Police troops have been sent to monasteries in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and part of their brief is to give monks “relevant information” about the Olympics.
Despite China’s attempts to impose an information blackout, this report includes new information and eyewitness testimony on the situation inside Tibet and the intensification of security prior to the Olympic torch events tomorrow in Lhasa. There are fears that the crackdown in Tibet will worsen still further following the Olympics, when there is even less international scrutiny on the situation inside.
Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of Advocacy of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “As we begin to uncover more facts about the situation in Tibet – the intensity of the crackdown, the extent of patriotic education and the use of torture – we see how determined the Chinese government authorities are to suppress the true sentiments of the Tibetan people and press on with their Olympic show in Lhasa. We are most concerned about the consequences for the detained and disappeared, and call for urgent international scrutiny not only now, but also post-Olympics, when the dangers to Tibetans will arguably increase.”
ICT is calling upon the Chinese government to:
- End the violent crackdown in Tibet;
- Provide access to all Tibetan areas for independent observers as a matter of urgency;
- Honor the Chinese Constitution’s commitment to the freedoms of speech and association, and not treat peaceful protest as a crime. Diplomats and other international observers should be allowed access to the trials of Tibetans charged with protest-related crimes;
- Grant due process to all others who have been taken into custody, and to offer access to independent counsel and to relatives;
- Withdraw security forces from monasteries, and end the “patriotic education” campaign, which has created a cycle of new dissent and only risks provoking further protests.
ICT has also called upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to use its authority and influence to ensure access without restrictions to media in the buildup to the arrival of the Olympic torch in Lhasa. In a June 18 letter to Mr Christophe De Kepper, Chief of Staff of the IOC, ICT’s President John Ackerly said: “Can we assume that the IOC is comfortable with taking the torch through an area that is under de facto martial law and closed to the outside world? … The IOC has a responsibility to press the Chinese government to allow access to foreign media during any leg of the torch relay, or any other Olympic event, without burdensome restrictions. … The IOC’s apparent failure to stand up for Olympic values … could place the IOC as a seemingly willing accomplice to the Chinese government’s tactics surrounding the torch relay in Tibet. It also cast a shadow over this IOC, because it reinforces the perception that this torch belongs to the Chinese government and not to the world.”
This ICT report, published on the eve of the arrival of the Olympic torch to Lhasa includes the following:
- Preliminary analysis of incidents of dissent in Tibet since March;
- New images of a monastery surrounded by troops in eastern Tibet;
- Previously unpublished pictures of the main prison where political prisoners are held in Qushui (Tibetan: Chushur) in Lhasa, where Tibetan prisoners have suffered increasingly severe treatment since the protests began;
- Details of an intensified climate of fear and security buildup prior to the torch’s arrival in Tibet, combined with stepped up censorship and efforts by the authorities to present the situation as ‘normal’;
- How the new focus on “patriotic education” emphasizes the importance of upholding the Party line on the Olympics;
- Reports of torture in detention of Tibetans and details of Tibetans now in prison following the protests.
Tibet at a turning point: summary of the dissent since March
Nuns from Dragkar Nunnery have staged three demonstrations in recent weeks. Prior to the May 28 protest by Sangye Lhamo, Tsewang Kando, and Yeshi Lhadon, two Dragkar nuns, named by TCHRD as Sonam Lhamo and Thubten Dolma, were detained on May 11, after protesting against ‘patriotic education’. The next day, a group of Dragkar nuns again protested against the Chinese authorities in Kardze and ten were detained, according to TCHRD and other Tibetan sources.
Since the unrest began on March 10, ICT has documented 125 separate incidents of dissent across the Tibetan plateau. Of these 125 protests, 47 have been carried out by monks, 44 by laypeople, and 28 by both monks and laypeople. The majority of protests have been in Tibetan areas of Sichuan province, particularly in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), where more than 80 nuns have been detained in recent weeks for peaceful dissent. While the majority of protests have been peaceful, at least 14 of the protests are known to have involved a significant degree of violence, mainly directed at property, such as Chinese-owned shops, banks, cars and government buildings; although in Lhasa on March 14 Tibetan rioters allegedly attacked and may have killed members of the security forces and Chinese civilians.
Security forces fired on, killed and wounded unarmed demonstrators in at least 11 separate incidents across the plateau. These protests occurred in Lhasa on March 14; in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) TAP in Sichuan province on March 16; in Serthar (Chinese: Seda) county in Sichuan on March 17, 18 and 20; in Chigdril (Chinese: Jiuzhi) county in Qinghai province on March 17; in Drango (Chinese: Luhuo) county in Qinghai province on March 24; in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) county in Sichuan on April 5; and in Jomda (Chinese: Jiangda) county in the TAR on April 8. There are conflicting reports on the events in Kardze on March 18, and insufficient information in many other cases. On May 28, a 21-year old Tibetan student, Rinchen (or Rigden) Lhamo, was shot in the leg after she called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and the release of Tibetan prisoners outside the Kardze county government headquarters.
Sangye Lhamo, a 26 year old nun from Serchuteng Township, Kardze County, was detained on May 28 along with two other nuns from Dragkar Nunnery in Kardze, Tsewang Kando, 38, also from Serchuteng Township, and Yeshi Lhadon, 24, from Tsozhi village, Kardze County. According to sources now in exile, the three were detained following a peaceful demonstration in the town market square where they distributed leaflets. The three nuns are currently being held in Kardze town jail, however they have been denied family visitation.
Once the height of the protests through the second half of March had passed, the response of the Chinese authorities was to step up patriotic education campaigns throughout Tibet, especially in areas where demonstrations or dissent had occurred. These campaigns, involving denunciation of the Dalai Lama, have been ongoing, and deeply resented, in many parts of Tibet since at least 1996, and one of the first protests in the wave of demonstrations this year at Ditsa Monastery in Qinghai province on March 10 seems to have begun in response to such a campaign.
The intensification of these campaigns in the aftermath of serious protests was accompanied by punitive searches of monasteries by security forces (including those previously uninvolved in protest), arrests of monks and others for possession of photos of the Dalai Lama and the requirement for individuals to sign statements confessing involvement in the protests. In many cases, heads of monasteries have had to guarantee that no further demonstrations will take place and even agree to fly the Chinese flag, which has provoked further ill-feeling and unrest in some places. Laypeople are also being targeted in this new round of patriotic education with demands that they denounce the Dalai Lama and pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The first known case of renewed protest sparked by patriotic education work teams entering monasteries was at Nangshik in Ngaba TAP in Sichuan on March 18, just two days after the major protest at nearby Kirti monastery that led to the shooting of unarmed protestors. (See: Monks, nomads protest as demonstrations spread across entire Tibetan Plateau, ICT, March 19, 2008.) Further examples of such protests have been reported in places including Sakya (Chinese: Sajia) county in the TAR on March 19; in Nyarong, (Chinese: Xinlong) county in Kardze TAP on March 29; in Sog (Chinese: Suo) and Biru counties in the TAR, also on March 29; in Jomda (Chinese: Jiangda) county (in Sibda) in the TAR on March 14; in Yulgen (at Tsang Gon) and Nyakchuka on April 15; in Lhasa (Nechung) on April 19; in Dege (Chinese: Derge) county (in Dzakok) in Kardze on April 28; and in Markham county (at Khenpalung Gon) in Sichuan on May 12.
Several protests were conceived as expressions of sympathy for those killed in the uprising and appeals for clemency. In most cases they were staged by nuns, monks, school children or students.
Severe restrictions for Saga Dawa as Olympic flame approaches: disappearances continue in Lhasa
Reports received by ICT indicate stringent restrictions in Lhasa, a city already under crackdown, in the buildup to the arrival of the Olympic torch. These same restrictions were also in place at the beginning of the important Tibetan religious festival of Saga Dawa from June 4, which the authorities may have feared might be a flashpoint for further protest. Informers and police in plain clothes were visible on the streets during Saga Dawa, often disguised as beggars and pilgrims, in addition to uniformed personnel. Schoolchildren were warned that they should discourage their families from carrying out traditional pilgrimages at this time. A Tibetan source told ICT: “Teachers at one kindergarten told children that they would be expelled if their relatives attended ceremonies for Saga Dawa.”
No foreign tourists or unescorted media are currently permitted to enter the TAR. A group of China-based international correspondents are arriving in Lhasa today (June 20) for a two-day visit that will be tightly controlled by the authorities.
A Tibetan source now in exile told ICT: “In the buildup to the arrival of the Olympic torch, people are under even greater scrutiny than before and are frightened. They are stockpiling dry foods in their homes because some expect even more protests, and more of a crackdown.”
In a further example of the intense level of security in the buildup to the arrival of the Olympic torch, a state media report stated that “In order to perform a good job of sacred Olympic torch security work and to create measures for convenient customs clearance, emergency coordination systems have been established”. (‘Raise safety awareness, broaden scope of inspection’, June 17, 2008, www.chinatibetnews.com). The same report states: “During this time, 100″ of tourist luggage shall be inspected; on the basis of risk analysis, 100″ of imported goods which conform to the standards of the analysis shall be inspected. At the same time, strengthen the scope of clearance, and focus on the implementation of monitoring and investigating.”
The government has stepped up propaganda efforts in order to present an image that Lhasa is “back to normal” prior to the arrival of the Olympic torch. One Tibetan source said: “The Chinese authorities will ensure that people’s shops are open and that Tibetans are doing the kora [the religious ritual of circumambulation around the Jokhang temple in the Barkor] on the days the foreign reporters will be in Lhasa.” Despite the heavy restrictions in place, the Party also attempted to convey a scene of normality when TAR Party Secretary Zhang Qingli was shown in the Barkhor on Xizang (Tibet) TV last week. In the background, Tibetans could be seen circumambulating the Jokhang.
On an “inspection tour” of six monasteries in Lhasa, reported in the Chinese media on June 5, Zhang Qingli was shown assessing the “patriotic education and political situation at Sera, Drepung, Ramoche, Potala and Jokhang temples” (Xizang TV). Zhang Qingli was quoted as saying “In order to attain our goal of political education in the monasteries, we have built up a suitable political environment in order to clean up influences of the ‘Dalai Clique’ and crack down on his supporters. The political education program in the monasteries is one of the most important programs of the TAR government and the central government has been paying great attention to this too. Anyone who tries to disturb our campaigns must be punished right away and decisively, in order to establish a proper foundation for the long term peaceful political environment in the monasteries.”
A recent report in China’s state media directly linked the patriotic education campaign with ensuring “security and stability” during the Olympics, and stated that “patriotic education” in one monastery in Lhundrub (Chinese: Linzhou) county in the TAR included passing onto monks “relevant knowledge” about the Olympics.
The report stated: “In order to create a peaceful and harmonious Lhundrub and to ensure security and stability during the period of the Olympic sacred flame torch relay and the Olympics, Lhundrub county People’s Armed Police has demanded that People’s Armed Police leaders in all townships vigorously carry out patriotic education in monasteries under their jurisdiction, and that monks at monasteries study the ‘Regulations on Religious Affairs’, that the state’s laws and regulations as well as the Party’s nationality policies and religion policies and regulations are propagandized to the monks, that the great developments in Tibet’s society and relevant knowledge about the Olympics are propagandized, making use of available and typical examples to educate the broad masses of monks and nuns in order to strengthen their patriotic sentiment and their understanding of the law, and to make them conscientiously uphold the unification of the motherland and oppose ethnic splittism.” (‘Linzhou county rolls out patriotic education in monasteries’, June 18, 2008, www.chinatibetnews.com.)
The information blackout in Lhasa and throughout Tibetan areas is stringently imposed with the confiscation of mobile phones and blocking of internet connections. ICT has received reports of Tibetan families who have received immediate visits from security personnel after taking phone calls from family or friends in exile. In one case, a young Tibetan woman was beaten so severely in an act of reprisal for taking a call that she had to be hospitalized.
A Tibetan source told ICT: “All communication lines are bugged. Skype messages are stored somewhere for future use. Any deleted file can be recovered on the same PC.”
Another Tibetan source, who is now in exile, gave ICT the following account of the atmosphere in Lhasa: “Roundups of Tibetans happens at night, usually around two o’clock in the morning. Every one is so petrified, whether they took part in any of the protests in March or not. When house to house searches began [after March 14], Tibetans had such a hard time hiding their secret pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There are grim tales of the dead and arrests. Family members of those missing went from prison to prison searching for their loved ones. Many are still missing. One friend of mine saw a truck escorted by two police cars, one in the front, one in the back. When they looked closely, they saw that it appeared to be carrying the body of at least one monk. They could see the monks’ robes.
“Everyone knew the significance of March 10 as a date. Even before that date, intensified restrictions had been evident, because the authorities knew it too. People were aware and expected something to happen because His Holiness is getting more popular around the world and also because it is Olympic year.”
According to a separate source, Tibetans who have been released after a period in detention are severely affected: “[Many of] those released are facing serious physical injuries or mental disorders.” The same source said that several local Tibetan policemen who had complained of excessive torture and aggressive interrogation tactics had disappeared, although this could not be confirmed.
‘Sometimes they even report our dreams’: new images of Chushur (Qushui) Prison
The main detention facility for political and other prisoners since mid-2005, Chushur Prison is visible from the main road leading to Shigatse, 120 km southwest of Lhasa. Signs posted at the entrance read ‘Seek truth from facts’ and ‘Progress with the times’.
These images of Qushui (Tibetan: Chushur) Prison in Lhasa are the first to be published since it started to become used as the main detention facility for political and other prisoners from summer 2005. The prison, described by Beijing as Qushui prison, is in a rural area south-west of Lhasa and although there has been a detention facility there since the 1960s, it was not known to foreign observers until the end of 2005. Since the protests broke out in March, political prisoners at Chushur have been singled out for particularly harsh treatment, according to a report from a Tibetan source. When unrest occurs, political detainees and former political prisoners, often come under suspicion and are singled out for reprisals. It is not known whether any prisoners sentenced after involvement in the March protests in Lhasa are serving their sentences in Chushur, although it is likely.
Conditions at the high security facility at Chushur are known to be more stringent for political prisoners even than Drapchi prison in the western suburbs of Lhasa, where most political prisoners were held before their transfer to Chushur in 2005.
A political prisoner who is familiar with the new prison told ICT: “On the outside the prison looks very modern and many of the facilities are new. But inside it is very tough and hard for prisoners, even compared to Drapchi prison.” A second former political prisoner at Chushur told ICT that the “interrogation and torture all the political prisoners receive is definitely worse than in Drapchi.” Commenting on security measures, the former prisoner, interviewed in exile in India, said: “In every political prisoner’s cell there are two criminal prisoners, one Chinese and one Tibetan, to watch what the political prisoners are doing and talking about. Every week those two criminal prisoners would attend a meeting with the prison authorities and would report what they saw and heard in the cell… Sometimes they would even report our dreams, as we might have said something relating to a political event.”
Reports about Chushur prison have been emerging from Tibetans who have escaped into exile since 2004. It is referred to by local people as ‘a prison near Drolma Lhakhang’, a temple on the main road leading south from Lhasa towards Tibet’s second city, Shigatse (Chinese: Rikaze), and its technical name is believed to be ‘Nidang zhuang wa chang’ in Chinese, or Nyethang (Chinese: Nidang) Brick and Tile Factory. The site is thought to have been used from the 1960s for housing prisoners who were used to make bricks and tiles. The prison is located in a rural area 120 km south-west of Lhasa in Chushur county, near Nyethang off of the main road leading to Shigatse.
The same Tibetan former prisoner, who was one of the first group of prisoners moved to Chushur after it opened in 2005, reported the prison cells as having a video camera in each corner of the room, with an audio recording device in the middle.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr Manfred Nowak, visited Chushur during a tour of prison facilities in November and December 2005. During his time in the TAR, officials initially failed to make Chushur prison known to Nowak, until he was told that most of the prisoners he wished to interview at Drapchi had been transferred there.
According to a report that followed Nowak’s trip, officials informed the Special Rapporteur that the prison was for “serious criminals” (i.e. those serving over 15 years) and maintained a male prison population of over 300. ICT later received reports that prisoners serving much shorter sentences were being held in Chushur.
Since March, many Tibetans rounded up in raids on homes or monasteries have been taken to detention facilities outside Lhasa. A source reported seeing hundreds of Tibetans, including many monks, being herded onto a train by armed police at Lhasa station bound for Qinghai. In an apparent further incidence of detained Tibetans being removed from Lhasa, around 300 prisoners arrived at the train station in Xining, Qinghai, in early April, according to Tibetan sources, who told ICT: “Every prisoner seemed to be hurt badly and some had blood on their faces. There was an old lady in the group with heavy shackles on her feet, and no shoes. She was being beaten by the police.”
Some Tibetans detained after March 14 are known to have been released – some are believed to have been detained while they were shopping for groceries, while others appear to have been detained simply for being found or living in Tibetan areas of Lhasa. A Tibetan writer reported that at one point more than 800 people were locked up in a large warehouse area at Lhasa railway station where many of them were beaten severely and deprived of food.
ICT has received further reliable reports of Tibetans being taken from Lhasa to detention facilities in Sichuan. A young monk who was detained in Lhasa for having no identity card was taken to a local detention center and beaten severely every day over a period of several days, according to one report. “Four men beat him at the same time, each time,” ICT’s source reported. “During the torture, he had no comprehension of night and day. With one arm up over behind the neck and the other under and behind the back, they tied his wrists together behind his back. The food at the prison consisted of one small bread roll per person and about 20 ounces of water that was shared between four to five people. People were sleeping in the area where they went to the toilet and they were not allowed to wear shoes.” The source said that he was later taken to Mianyang Prison in Sichuan, and was released later due to fears that he might die if he remained without medical attention. He can now hardly walk or talk and his breathing is labored. The same source said that there were many Tibetans from Lhasa in the same prison.
On the outside the prison looks very modern and many of the facilities are new. But inside it is very tough and hard for prisoners, even compared to Drapchi prison.” Conditions at the high security facility of Qushui are known to be more stringent for political prisoners even than Drapchi prison in the western suburbs of Lhasa, where most political prisoners were held before their transfer to Qushui in 2005. It is not known whether any prisoners sentenced after involvement in the March protests in Lhasa are serving their sentences in Qushui, although it is likely.
Images reveal arrival of troops and security lockdown at Tibetan monastery as new patriotic education campaign begins
Soldiers conducting a search at Tsendrok monastery in Mayma township, Machu County, Gansu. A Tibetan source reported that “the soldiers barged into the monastery, conducted random searches, and broke down doors, windows, and other objects. They cooked food for themselves from the monastery’s supplies, and when they left that evening, took with them a number of valuable and precious religious artefacts.” Similar searches – for items of political significance such as Dalai Lama pictures – took place in other monasteries in the area at around the same time.
Dramatic images show armed troops arriving at Tsendrok monastery in Mayma township, Machu (Chinese: Maqu) county in Gansu Province on the morning of April 18. A Tibetan source told ICT that the large military convoy from Lanzhou (North West Military Division), of approximately 27 vehicles, arrived at the monastery without any warning. The source, who said that there were hundreds of armed personnel in the vehicles, added: “The soldiers barged into the monastery, conducted random searches, and broke down doors, windows, and other objects.” They cooked food for themselves from the monastery’s supplies, and when they left that evening, took with them a number of valuable and precious religious artefacts, according to the same source, a Tibetan in exile with connections in the area. The monastery has reportedly filed a complaint based on the confiscation of the artefacts. Similar searches – for items of political significance such as Dalai Lama pictures – took place in other monasteries in the area at around the same time. This is one of several reports received by ICT of religious artefacts being seized and taken away by troops from monasteries – it has also reportedly happened in Tongkor (Chinese: Huangyuan) county in Qinghai and Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe) in Gansu province. There are indications that these are actions not necessarily sanctioned by higher officials.
Another Tibetan source told ICT: “The personal possessions of monks as well as objects like small statues and antique china bowls have been stolen by police during raids on several monasteries. There is evidence that these actions are by local security forces taking the law into their own hands.” The looting of monasteries during raids also occurred during the crackdown in the late 1980s in Lhasa.
Armed troops arriving at Tsendrok (Tibetan: mTsen sGrogs) monastery in Mayma township, Machu county, on the morning of April 18. A Tibetan source told ICT that the large military convoy, from Lanzhou (North West Military Division), of approximately 27 vehicles, arrived at the monastery without any warning.
“Tibetan Buddhist monks were advised to learn about Communist Party rule rather than about Buddhism.” The same source quoted a monk from the area saying: “What is happening in the monasteries now with regard to patriotic education is a real disaster for monks, we are trying to practice our religion but it is hardly possible.” The same report said that some monks were leaving the monasteries in response to the campaign. The patriotic education campaign is also being extended to laypeople in Machu.
According to reports circulating in the area, local Tibetans are disturbed by other actions of security personnel now entrenched in Machu – in particular, news has reached ICT of soldiers or armed police shooting and eating Tibetan mastiff dogs, and also taking cash from monasteries where patriotic education is being enforced.
A stringent campaign of patriotic education has begun recently in the monasteries of the nomadic area of Machu county, where a major protest against Chinese rule occurred on March 16. There are nine monasteries in this area, mostly with small populations of monks, and many of them were involved in the protests in March. More than 100 personnel were sent into the area to implement patriotic education in the monasteries after the protests broke out in March, and there was a particular emphasis – as with other campaigns across Tibet – on denunciations of the Dalai Lama.
A Tibetan source in exile with connections in Machu told ICT: “Tibetan Buddhist monks were advised to learn about Communist Party rule rather than about Buddhism.” The same source quoted a monk from the area saying: “What is happening in the monasteries now with regard to patriotic education is a real disaster for monks, we are trying to practice our religion but it is hardly possible.” The same report said that some monks were leaving the monasteries in response to the campaign. The patriotic education campaign is also being extended to laypeople in Machu.
Prior to the visit of an escorted group of foreign journalists to two monasteries in Machu on April 10 (See: Monks reveal concerns about Chinese allegations on weapons caches, views on Olympics, ICT, April 16, 2008), a group of provincial level officials headed by the Sichuan propaganda chief visited the area. According to a report from a Tibetan in exile with connections in the area, monks were given precise directions as to how to react when the reporters asked them questions. ICT has obtained information about the directions given to monks by the propaganda officials, who said: “If you are asked about your opinion on the Dalai Lama you should respond by saying that you oppose a free Tibet and will always oppose activities aimed at separating the country.” The monks were also advised to say that they accepted the Chinese recognized Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, and not the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who is in Chinese custody.
On the day the press arrived, monks were made to give prayers in the main hall of the monasteries and army personnel were stationed out of sight. According to the same report, “Police officers were given Tibetan laypeople’s clothes and asked to circumambulate the monastery holding prayer beads.”
According to various reports received by ICT, the situation in the area is still very tense with hundreds of soldiers deployed in Machu. Many detainees in Machu and other Tibetan areas are being released upon payment of a fine since the protests in March. These fines are often substantial and sometimes beyond the means of families or monks. On occasion, monasteries have paid fines for monks who are detained. Thirty six monks from one monastery in Machu were released upon payment of a large fine of 10,000 yuan ($1453) each. The fine imposed was initially 15,000 yuan ($2180) for some monks but it was negotiated down. In the initial security sweep following the Machu protest on March 16, hundreds of Tibetans were taken into custody, but according to two reports received from the area, most have now been released, often after torture. One Tibetan in exile with connections in the area told ICT: “It seems that some are coming out of prison with injuries that are not always visible. I have heard several accounts of people being beaten very severely and electric shock prods used on the genitals of both men and women.”
Just over a week ago, a notice was posted on the gate of the government headquarters of Machu town, naming several Tibetans in the local police force. According to a source, the poster stated that its writer understood that Chinese police were beating Tibetans because they had been involved in a struggle against the Tibetans since the invasion [in 1949-50]. But the notice added that the author could not understand why the named Tibetans were collaborating with them and inflicting such pain on fellow Tibetans. The individuals named were believed to be those who had been involved in inflicting torture on Tibetan detainees over the past few months. Police in the area are apparently not permitted to take any leave at present.
An account by a Tibetan of torture during detention following March 14 in Lhasa
A young Tibetan man sent some details to a friend in exile of his brief period in detention after a house to house search on March 18. The Tibetan, whose name is not known to ICT, said that on March 18, armed soldiers broke down the doors to his family’s home, ransacked the property, and beat members of his family, who appear to have been suspected of involvement in the protests. The Tibetan’s account is consistent with other accounts of detention following the protest obtained by ICT. He said: “I was arrested and they took me with them, tied my thumbs behind my back, very tightly, so that this whole area has been numb for the last two or three months [all of his left thumb]. … At first I thought that they were going to kill me, they hit my head a lot, and heads are easy to break, it’s not like the rest of the body. They took me to prison, for four days they didn’t ask me anything, they just threw us here. They gave us half a steamed bun a day, that’s very small. They didn’t provide any water. Everyone was very thirsty and a lot of people drank their urine. We had no clothes, no blankets, nothing to lie down on, nothing (just cement floors) and it was very cold. For four days nobody spoke to us, they just left us there.
“We heard a lot of things. Many people had arms or legs broken or gunshot wounds but they weren’t taken to hospital. They were there with us. It was really terrible. I can’t believe that we are in the 21st century. For instance, one boy who was shot four [only three bullet wounds are described] times, one from here to there [the bullet entered from the left side of his back and exited from the left side of his chest, near his heart], one from here to here [from inner left elbow to inner left wrist], and one here [a horizontal wound on his upper right arm]. Some people had their ribs broken. One man was punched in his [right] eye, and it was all swollen and black and blue, very bad. People had their teeth broken, these are just examples. A lot of terrible things were done.
“One of the problems is that people have no food, they are very hungry, they are just falling over [collapsing]. One boy fell into the toilet, all in the same room, and he was cut right across his face [under his chin along the jaw]. A lot of people have psychological problems, and they’re the first to collapse. A boy from [a town in Tibet], he has a problem of the “heart”, a psychological problem, and he was very thin. At first he fell two or three times every day but they didn’t care. … Some monks had sacks put over their heads and they were taken away and didn’t come back, so maybe they were killed.
“I met an old man, 65 years old, who had ribs broken and he was all bent over and he couldn’t stand up straight, he was dying, so the police took him to People’s Hospital, where one or two people die every day. The people who are taken to hospital are usually people who have been shot or beaten, and they usually die there.”
The account continued: “Many questions were asked of people who are not guilty of anything, they are just Tibetans. There are many counties in Tibet, they call the police from each county, and the people from the counties aren’t in Lhasa so they show them that the prisons are empty, but they were taken to all kinds of places, because in Lhasa there are so many people watching so they keep everyone away. Now the monks from [a monastery in Tibet], friends and relatives, we don’t know where they are. I want to write but there are guards everywhere. …You know that they say that there are no soldiers in Lhasa, but they’re in civilian dress and they check identity papers.
There are a lot of high school students from [a town in Tibet]. A 17-year-old who had not participated in the events of the 14th [of March], all his clothes were taken away, they tied his hands and they pushed a wagon at him until he fell, there are all kinds of torture methods. This kid was very young and he didn’t even do anything. Afterwards he said that he’d done all kinds of things, that happens to a lot of people, they pressure people to admit things they never did. I met a monk from [a monastery in Tibet] before I was released [in April]. I am very worried about the monks. The soldiers regard the monks as something very different, because a monk from [a county in Tibet], his finger was bent over [shows a completely bent finger] and he’d been blinded in one eye, he couldn’t see out of it at all, he was beaten more than us but luckily. … Really I can’t understand why they do terrible things to monks, very, very painful.”
The Tibetan’s account confirms other information received by ICT that torture of monks is particularly severe. The Tibetan, who has now been released, said: “I want to study more at home every day but I can’t. When I watch TV, everything is lies, so it pains my heart and it’s very bad. So I walk in the streets and I see the soldiers asking me for my identity papers, they look at my card and ask me, ‘When were you born?’ and if there’s the smallest mistake you’re finished. They check the picture and your face, but a Chinese person can pass right by [without identity papers], that’s okay.
“When I was in prison, a Tibetan policeman told me ‘Kneel down here!’, I had my thumbs tied behind my back. He sat down [on a chair in front of me], put his foot on my head and kicked my forehead with his foot, pushed my head back and slapped my face over and over again, and I saw this man and I was very sad. He’s Tibetan and now I see him every day, I’ve seen him many times [since then], he’s here at the station. A lot of Chinese and Tibetans jumped on my back and kicked me and beat me over the head, they twisted my head back so I couldn’t see their faces, but to show me your face and to do those bad things – that’s the worst thing.
“This is just an experience, I could learn a lot from it. In prison sometimes I dreamed about food and I remembered the food we cook at home, my mother and my sister’s cooking and I could smell it, and then I really appreciated how tasty the food is at home. I usually eat everything and then I say ‘That wasn’t so good,’ and now I’ve learnt that it’s very, very good. These are the worst things that I’ve ever seen in my life, but you learn how to be a good person. Sometimes, when my sister’s children are here, and they don’t do their schoolwork, I yell at them and hit them. But now if I yell at them it pains me sometimes. I’ve learned a lot.
“I’m worried about the small Tibetan population. Many people are dying today or being crippled with broken arms and legs, and that’s very bad. And people are in prison, like me, and I think about the people in prison all the time. I think about the terrible state they are in. Young people, 16 or 17 years old, crying all the time – it makes me really sad. I saw people with broken limbs and people who’d been shot – seeing their pale faces is very, very sad.”