A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet documents a pattern of torture and mistreatment by Chinese prison officials of Tibetans, including 14 of them who have died, as a consequence, between 2009 and 2014.

This report, “Torture and Impunity – 29 Cases of Tibetan Political Prisoners” details specific cases of the 14 Tibetans, from an educated Tibetan in his early forties to a Buddhist teacher, who died as a result of torture in custody as well as the 15 others who survived but are still suffering. It also details the impact of imprisonment – whether extra-judicial, interrogation or a formal sentence – on the lives of Tibetan political prisoners released over the past two years whose ordeals have become known to the outside world, despite rigorous controls on information flow.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said:

“This report documents that since the unrest and crackdown in 2008, torture appears to have become more widespread and directed at a broader sector of society in Tibet. In particular, a younger generation of Tibetans is paying a high price with their lives for peacefully expressing their views about the oppressive policies implemented by the Chinese Government. Almost any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can now be characterized as ‘reactionary’, ‘splittist’, and therefore ‘criminal.’”

“Democratic Governments and the international community cannot turn their head away from this systematic abuses and must make China accountable to its international obligations, if a hope to see China reforming is to be seriously pursued,” he added.

Torture is endemic in Tibet’s judicial and law enforcement system, a result both of a political emphasis on ensuring ‘stability’ and a culture of impunity imposed from the highest levels of the Chinese leadership.

The report will be presented to the U.N. Committee Against Torture and to other UN mechanisms during the next session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

For Tibetans, it is important that these accounts are known outside Tibet. Before he died following torture and malnourishment in prison, 43-year old Goshul Lobsang expressed his wish for a blessing from the Dalai Lama, and also said that he wanted to let the outside world know about the lives of Tibetan political prisoners under Chinese oppression. He passed away in March (2014); Tibetan sources said that: “[At the end] he could not say anything, but simply folded his hands and died.”

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is deeply concerned about the spike in political imprisonment and the endemic torture of Tibetans in contravention of both Chinese and international law.[1] While there are legal safeguards in Chinese law against enforced disappearance, torture and medical access for detainees, these measures are routinely ignored by the Chinese authorities.

The report asks China to conduct an inquiry into the cases of custodial deaths and extra-judicial killings detailed in this report and bring those responsible to justice.

It also calls on China to:

  • enforce Articles 7 and 14 of the Prison Law of the People’s Republic of China which stipulate that guards cannot humiliate detainees or violate their personal safety, use torture or corporal punishment, ”beat or connive at others to beat a prisoner,” or “humiliate the human dignity of a prisoner.”
  • release all Tibetan prisoners who have been detained for religious beliefs or practices, or peaceful expression of views;
  • address the underlying grievances of Tibetans by respecting their universal rights and by entering into meaningful negotiations with the Tibetans.

Please visit our website for the full report.

[1] Dr. Xia Yong, deputy director of Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an article in the Chinese state media that: “Opposing torture is a fundamental principle of Chinese legislation, and the Constitution, criminal law and criminal procedure law have specific provisions protecting citizens’ personal rights.” (China.org.cn report, http://www.china.org.cn/english/2001/Mar/8387.htm).