A report released today by Amnesty International finds that political prisoners rarely avoid torture during detention in Tibet. According to the report titled, “Torture – A Growing Scourge in China -Time for Action,” torture in Tibet is:

“particularly harsh during the early stages of custody and interrogation. Many report being beaten with whatever implement a guard or interrogator can find at hand including gun-butts. Prisoners are often beaten around the head, or kicked in the stomach, lower back and genitals. Some, wearing metal helmets, have had their heads beaten against walls. Kidney and liver ailments are common among prisoners as a result of kicking and beatings by prison guards aimed specifically at these sensitive organs.”

Equally troubling are reports of systematic beatings of prisoners, many of whom are left crippled after having been beaten unconscious. Delay in access to medical treatment and death following delayed release on medical grounds continue to be causes of great concern. Furthermore, no substantial response to reports of torture from the Chinese authorities indicates “that indifference is widespread” while the government continues to mandate “strike hard” crackdowns for “quick results” at any cost.

Specific cases cited in the Amnesty report include several Tibetan nuns who died on June 7, 1998, in what prison officials termed “suicide” following beatings and torture inflicted for their participation in the Drapchi prison protests in May 1998. In reply to an urgent appeal of December 10, 1998, sent by the Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and on Violence against Women, February 24, 1999, government authorities stated that there had not been a demonstration by offenders since the Tibet Autonomous Region Prison was founded.

Bhuchung Tsering, Director of ICT, said that the Amnesty report “confirms a systematic pattern of ill-treatment and torture in prison that has been long established and apparently continues unabated. We find that this report provides yet another reason why free and influential countries like the United States must press forward with a condemnation of China’s human rights abuses at the UN Commission on Human Rights meeting in March and April. Moreover, the report makes a compelling argument for the immediate release on humanitarian grounds of all Tibetan prisoners of conscience, especially those who we note to merit medical parole.”