Washington, D.C. – The U.S. State Department said today that China’s human rights record in Tibetan areas of China “remained poor”, but that there had been “positive developments” in terms of a third visit to China by the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the early release of some political prisoners, according to its annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices.

“While it is tempting to see the dialogue between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama’s envoys as a ‘positive’ development, the long list of continuing human rights violations against the Tibetan people cited in this report suggests that China is not sincere in wanting to resolve the problems in Tibet,” said Mary Beth Markey, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet US. “If dialogue is to be meaningful, then China must follow through and show some concrete outcome.”

The State Department report, which tracks governments’ practices during the year, is based primarily on information from U.S. embassy officials but also from non-governmental organizations. This year’s report covers all Tibetan areas currently under the People’s Republic of China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas incorporated into provinces of Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan. This process of reporting began last year.

The report said the Chinese authorities “continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killing, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetans for peacefully expressing their political or religious views.”

The report found that repressive social and political controls continued to limit the fundamental freedoms of Tibetans and risked undermining Tibet’s unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage. Most of the information in the report is from independent Tibet-related news sources including a human rights monitoring organization and a Tibetan-language radio station, indicating a lack of access to information for US diplomats stationed in the Chengdu consulate in Sichuan province. The State Department report also referred to a lack of response to their queries to China regarding specific abuses, such as a call for an inquiry into the death in custody of Nyima Dragpa, a monk from Nyatso monastery in Kardze prefecture, Sichuan, in custody, allegedly from injuries sustained during severe beatings.

Specific violations, excerpted from the report, include:

  • A Tibetan religious leader, Shetsul, was shot and killed by police in Qinghai’s Golog prefecture after he and other monks demanded that the police pay for medical treatment for injuries suffered while in custody;
  • The arrest of two students, Nyima Dorjee and Lobsang Dorjee, in Kardze prefecture, Sichuan, for putting up pro-independence posters on local government buildings, and a young monk at Ganden monastery in Lhasa, Choeden Rinzen, for possession of a picture of the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan national flag;
  • The temporary detentions of two musicians, Namkha and Bakocha, due to the “implicit political content” of their music, and a group of 60 individuals at a reception ceremony at Chogri monastery in Draggo county, Kardze prefecture;
  • The arrest of Tibetans Dejor, Tsering Dawa and Datsok after a clash with Chinese workers over a mining project in Nagchu prefecture, the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the additional arrest of Nyima Tenzen and Sonam Nyidup, who protested against these detentions by shouting pro-independence slogans;
  • Continuing restrictions on the movement of the former “singing nun” Phuntsog Nyidron following her release from Drapchi prison last Febrary one year before her 17-year sentence was due to expire;
  • The imprisonment of prominent religious leader Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, arrested in April 2002 for his alleged connection to a series of bombings, and the execution of his alleged associate, Lobsang Dondrub. The State Department report does not include the information that Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is now serving a life sentence;
  • The use of torture including electric shocks, prolonged periods of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention beatings and other forms of abuse on political prisoners;
    Inadequate legal safeguards for Tibetans who are detained or imprisoned. Most judges had little or no legal training;
  • Arbitrary detention of Tibetans, particularly monks, returning to China from Nepal. Detentions generally lasted for several months, although in most cases no formal charges were brought. In January and September 2004 there were reports that the Nepali government cooperated with Chinese authorities to repatriate Tibetans who crossed the border;
  • The atmosphere for religious freedom varied from region to region and restrictions remained, particularly in the TAR. In November 2004, Party officials met Buddhist leaders in Qinghai and warned that they would be punished if they failed to win greater support for Beijing’s policies towards the exiled Dalai Lama and greater acceptance among their followers for the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama;
  • Security was intensified during the Dalai Lama’s birthday, sensitive anniversaries and festival days in the TAR and in some other Tibetan areas; students and faculty at Tibet University in Lhasa were restrained from participated in religious devotions connected to the Sagadawa festival in June;
  • Spiritual leaders encountered difficulties in re-establishing historical monasteries due to lack of funds, general limitations on monastic education and denials of government permission to build and operate religious institutions. Monks and nuns continued to under ‘patriotic education’ on a regular basis despite official claims that this political campaign had been discontinued;
  • Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from the government’s development policies in Tibetan areas. The dominant position of the Chinese language in government, commerce and academia left many young Tibetans seeking to get ahead with little choice but to use Chinese rather than Tibetan;
    Tibetans experienced discrimination in employment for some urban occupations and claimed Chinese were hired preferentially for many jobs and received greater pay for the same work;
  • Rapid economic growth, the expanding tourism industry and the introduction of more modern cultural influences have disrupted traditional living patterns and customs and threatened traditional Tibetan culture

The US State Department Annual Country Report is at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/index.htm