Days after the 50th anniversary of the March 10 Tibetan uprising, footage has been released by the Tibetan government in exile of brutal police treatment meted out to Tibetans during protests against Chinese rule beginning in March 2008 that swept across the Tibetan plateau and continue sporadically to this day. The graphic and disturbing footage can be seen at: http://www.tibetonline.tv/torture/. Many viewers will find it disturbing; it includes footage of a medical procedure on a Tibetan who later died of his wounds. Details of sources are not given with the video, which is likely to be in order to protect confidentiality.
In a statement today from Dharamsala, India, the Tibetan government in exile said: “Though there is much footage of the protests taking place throughout Tibet last year that were splashed across the world, the following is rare footage of police beating of protestors, the suffering and death of a captive, and paramilitary presence in Lhasa, which managed to make its way to the outside world.”
The footage clearly refutes China’s denials of torture and beatings of prisoners in Tibet. The Beijing authorities have sought to represent the unrest across the Tibetan plateau over the past year as one violent riot, referring to events in Lhasa on March 14, 2008. For weeks after March 14, state-run television showed selective footage of monks apparently hurling rocks at police, protestors destroying shop fronts, and plumes of black smoke from burned-out cars in Lhasa. A DVD of the ‘3/14’ incident was even produced and disseminated by Chinese embassies worldwide, while the Chinese government sought to suppress news of Tibetans who were shot dead or tortured to death during the subsequent crackdown. Due to the climate of fear and severe measures imposed to prevent information leaving Tibet, the footage released today by the Tibetan government in exile is the first such visual documentation of torture of Tibetans in custody since the crisis began in March 2008.
The first piece of footage depicts monks and lay Tibetans lying on the ground after detention and being beaten with sticks, with one Tibetan being dragged along the ground into view. Their hands and wrists are tightly trussed with rope, with at least one with the wrist trussed over the shoulder in an uncomfortable and often agonizing position commonly used in Chinese prisons, and the police can be heard shouting in heavily accented Sichuan Chinese, with at least one shouting in the Tibetan language. One of the Chinese police appears to be calming for calm at one point. Although it is difficult to make out exactly what the police are shouting, it is possible to make out the following: “Run away again! Run away again!” “Now you understand, do you!?” (in Tibetan) “Enough, enough, enough!” (Chinese – the only voice appealing for calm) “Lie down! Lie down!” (Chinese) “Get him down!” (Chinese).
Although this is disturbing to watch, treatment of Tibetan protestors in many cases since March 2008 is known to have been much more severe than beatings with sticks; many have faced severe torture with electric shock prods or more severe kicking and beating in detention centers and prisons. Many Tibetans have suffered from broken or dislocated limbs, disfigurement, and psychological harm.
The full press release from the Tibetan government in exile’s Department of Information and International Relations follows below.
China’s brutality in Tibet exposed
Footage available at http://www.tibetonline.tv/torture/
Dharamshala: Though there are many footages of the protests taking place throughout Tibet last year that were splashed across the world, the following are one of the rare footages of police beating of protestors, the suffering and death of a captive, and Para-military presence in Lhasa, which managed to make its way to the outside world.
According to the information received by the Central Tibetan Administration, as of 31 January 2009, partly as a result of such beatings, about 220 Tibetans died and over 1,294 were seriously injured. Over 5,600 were arrested, 290 sentenced and more than 1,000 have simply disappeared.
In the past, one of the most powerful and stunningly painful footages to come out of Tibet that recorded Chinese police treatment of the protestors was the 1988 beating of the monks at the Jokhang temple. These footages now shown around the world are the first images that documented the brutality of the Chinese police.
China has repeatedly denied the use of torture in Tibet. Even after last March’s widespread protests and the crackdown that followed, Chinese authorities in Tibet resorted to brutal beatings and torture of the captive Tibetans.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had rejected the U.N. panel’s report on the widespread use of torture by Chinese police, calling the report as “untrue and slanderous” in November 2008 and accusing the committee members as “prejudiced” against China.
However, the following footages testify to what is truly happening in Tibet as recently as 2008.
This is one of the rare footages of Chinese police beating Tibetans who participated in the massive and widespread protests that erupted throughout Tibet since 10 March 2008. We are told that these beating of protestors took place in or near Lhasa after 14 March 2008. The footage clearly shows the beating of Tibetan captives even after they are handcuffed and tied, a violation of international norms regarding treatment of captives.
The second footage is about a young Tibetan, Tendar, a staff in the China Mobile company who was brutally beaten and later suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities. Tendar was simply trying to stop some Chinese police officials from beating a lone monk on March 14, 2008 when he was on his way to his office.
He was fired at, burned with cigarettes butts, pierced with a nail in his right foot, and severely beaten with an electric baton. The wounds and the bruise marks visible on his body is a testimony of the brutality he was subjected to by the Chinese authorities.
The doctors and the nurses were terribly stunned upon seeing the rotten wounds and bruises on his body when he was shifted to the TAR People’s Hospital, which shows he was even denied basic medical care at the military hospital.
Due to covering his wounds with polythene, his wounds began to rot as clearly seen from the footage.
TAR People’s Hospital had to remove about 2.5 kgs of his body part in order to clean out the decay. Every effort was undertaken by his family in meeting huge expenses, but for his recovery, but failed to bring improvement.
He died due to his injuries on June 19, 2008. When his corpse was offered to the vultures according to the tradition, a nail was found in his right foot.
Third footage shows the heavy Para-military presence in Lhasa in the run up to the 50th Anniversary of March 10 Tibetan National Uprising.
Lhasa and all other areas of Tibet still remain under virtual martial law.