Washington, D.C. – The U.S. State Department today released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which tracks governments’ practices during the year, based primarily on information from U.S. embassy officials but also attained from non-governmental organizations. This year’s report covers the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas incorporated Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan in a unified Tibet section for the first time. As a result of the new reporting format, a significant number of the specific abuses highlighted in the report were incidents that took place outside the TAR.
The report characterized China’s human rights record in Tibet as “poor,” describing a situation whereby “authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including execution without due process, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetans for peacefully expressing their political or religious views.”
“Those who take the position that human rights are the inevitable outgrowth of increased social and economic contact between China and free countries should study this and other reports coming from Tibet,” said Mary Beth Markey, U.S. Executive Director of the International campaign for Tibet.
“The ‘trickle-down’ theory has not worked when it comes to human rights in Tibet,” Markey continued.
The 2003 report presents significant evidence that the Chinese government has failed both to provide and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people. It portrays a situation whereby Tibetans who attempt to assert their identity, including the expression of centuries-old religious practices, are seen as subversive to government interests and are targeted for removal from the community.
“This report together with the main China report make the case that the United States is obliged by circumstances on the ground to introduce a resolution condemning China’s human rights practices at the annual meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva next month,” said Markey.
Specific violations, excerpted from the report, include:
- Lobsang Dondrub and Buddhist teacher Tenzin Deleg, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a series of bombings in Sichuan province, were denied due process, including access to adequate representation. Lobsang Dondrub’s execution the same day he lost his appeal to the Sichuan Provincial Higher People’s Court, as well as the failure of the national-level Supreme People’s Court to review the case as promised to foreign officials, raised serious concerns in the international community.
- Monks Kalsang Dondrub and Ngawang Dondrub were sentenced in Qinghai Province on charges of "endangering state security" for nonviolent political activities.
- Kunchok Choephel Labrang and Jigme Jamtruk, two monks from Labrang Tashikyil Monastery in Kanlho Prefecture, Gansu Province, were arrested for possessing booklets containing speeches of the Dalai Lama.
- Yeshi Gyatso, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and Tibet University Student Dawa Tashi were detained on charges of "splitting the motherland, undermining unity of nationalities, and violating the constitution."
- Five monks and an unidentified lay artist from Ngaba prefecture in Sichuan province received sentences of 1 to 12 years’ imprisonment for alleged separatist activities, including painting a Tibetan national flag, possessing pictures of the Dalai Lama, and distributing materials calling for Tibetan independence.
- Nyima Dragpa, a monk from Nyatso Monastery, died in custody, allegedly from injuries sustained during severe beatings [in Dawu prison in Sichuan province].
- Chadrel Rinpoche, released in January 2002 after 6 years and 6 months in prison for leaking information about the selection of the Panchen Lama, was reportedly still under house arrest near Lhasa.
- The lack of independent access to prisoners and prisons made it difficult to ascertain the number of Tibetan political prisoners or to assess the extent and severity of abuses. The Tibet Information Network (TIN) estimated that approximately 150 Tibetans were imprisoned on political grounds, 75 percent of whom were monks or nuns.
- On May 31, the Chinese Government successfully pressured the Government of Nepal to repatriate to China 18 Tibetans, including several minors. Contrary to established practice, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kathmandu was denied access to the group. The Tibetans were forced onto a bus and driven back across the border into China, where they were detained, first at a border post and later at a prison in Shigatse. They reportedly suffered torture, including electric shocks, exposure to cold, and severe beatings, and were forced to perform heavy physical labor. Their family members also were pressured for bribes to secure their release.
- The Government continued to oversee the daily operations of major monasteries.
- The erosion of the quality of religious teaching in the TAR and other Tibetan areas continued to be a focus of concern. The quality and availability of high-level religious teachers in the TAR and other Tibetan areas was inadequate; many teachers were in exile, older teachers were not being replaced, and those remaining in Tibetan areas outside the TAR had difficulty securing permission to teach in the TAR.
- Officials acknowledged that monks and nuns continued to undergo mandatory political education or "patriotic education" on a regular basis at their religious sites. Government officials stated that the "patriotic education" campaign, which began in 1996, had ended prior to the reporting period.
- The Government continued to insist that Communist Party members and senior government employees adhere to the Party’s code of atheism, and routine political training for government cadres continued to promote atheism. Authorities also continued to pressure public sector employees, through political training and threats of termination, to demonstrate their loyalty to the State and refrain from actions that could be construed as lending explicit or tacit support to the Dalai Lama. Public sector employees in the TAR also reportedly were pressured not to send their children to India to be educated.
- Authorities have increased efforts to exert control over the process for finding and educating reincarnate lamas.
- The Government continued to insist that Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy it selected in 1995, is the Panchen Lama’s 11th reincarnation. The Government refused to recognize the Dalai Lama’s choice of another boy, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who first disappeared in 1995 when he was 6 years old. On August 5, the Government announced that Gendun Choekyi Nyima is "now a student and is studying well," but continued to ban pictures of the boy and refused all requests from the international community for access to confirm his whereabouts and well-being.
- In 2002, many traditional Tibetan-style buildings located in the UNESCO-protected downtown area of Lhasa were demolished.
- Although the TAR Government passed a law in March 2002 stating the equality of Tibetan and Chinese as official languages and promoting the development of Tibetan, the dominant position of the Chinese language in government, commerce, and academia undermined the ability of younger Tibetans to speak and read their native language. Illiteracy and semi-literacy rates were as high as 90 percent in some areas.
- Malnutrition among Tibetan children continued to be widespread in many areas of the TAR. This was particularly true of rural areas and resulted in high rates of stunted growth among children.
- Prostitution was a growing problem. Lack of knowledge about HIV transmission and economic pressures on prostitutes to engage in unprotected sex made an increase in the rate of HIV infection likely.
- The TAR Tourism Bureau confirmed that it had fired a number of Tibetan tour guides educated in India or Nepal, and brought 100 tour guides from other provinces to work in the TAR during the summer tourist season.
- The Tibetan language services of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia (RFA), as well as of the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet, suffered from jamming. RFA stated that Tibetans were subject to intimidation and fines for listening to foreign-language broadcasts.
- Repressive social and political controls continued to limit the fundamental freedoms of Tibetans and risked undermining Tibet’s unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage.