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China's contempt for the rule of law in Tibet: report PDF Print E-mail
[12 September 2014] Tibet Society has handed in a report to the UK Foreign Office outlining recent cases in Tibet where the Chinese government has blatantly disregarded the rule of law. Tibet Society has asked for UK government officials to raise these cases with their Chinese counterparts in upcoming meetings and dialogues.

Download the report
(6 page PDF document)

Chinas contempt for the rule of law in Tibet: recent cases

Tibet Society logoSubmitted to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
by Tibet Society, 10 September 2014

[10 September 2014] The Chinese government continues to blatantly disregard the rule of law in Tibet and Tibetan regions despite their claims to the contrary, such as to the UN Human Rights Council, and despite having a constitution which guarantees the rule of law for all of its citizens.

In the past few weeks alone, cases have come to light in which the Chinese authorities in Tibet have been responsible for:
  • the shooting of unarmed Tibetan protestors;
  • denying medical treatment to wounded protestors;
  • arbitrarily detaining Tibetans;
  • sentencing two monks to long term sentences in closed trials;
  • maltreating detainees and prisoners;
  • arresting a blogger for posting views online.
These cases, outlined in detail below, clearly demonstrate the Chinese government is contravening international standards on human rights and is failing to meet its obligations in upholding the rule of law.

Specifically in Tibet, the Chinese government is failing to uphold the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
  • Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  • Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Article 20: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Article 1: All peoples have the right of self-determination.
  • Article 14: (3b) [Everyone shall be entitled] to communicate with counsel of his own choosing; (3c) To be tried without undue delay; (3d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; (3g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.
Recent Cases
1. Shooting of unarmed protestors in Loshu (August 2014)
2. Dawa Tsomo - blogger detained for expressing views (August 2014)
3. Jigme Guri - monk jailed for five years on unclear charges (September 2014)
4. Phurbu Rinpoche - falsely imprisoned, mal-treated and in ill-health (exact date unknown)
5. Tsultrim Nyendrak - jailed, tortured and in poor health (exact date unknown)

1. Shooting of unarmed protestors in Loshu
Loshu protestOn 12 August 2014, Tibetans took to the streets in Loshu town, eastern Tibet (pictured right) to protest against the arbitrary detention of a village leader. Loshu (Chinese: Luoxo) is located in Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated in Chinas Sichuan province).

Chinese police violently suppressed the demonstration using live ammunition and tear gas. At least ten Tibetans were seriously injured and many, possibly hundreds, were detained. The Chinese authorities have denied medical treatment to those injured. Six Tibetans have since died, four succumbing to their injuries and two committing suicide.

Following the protest, the Chinese authorities blocked communications with the Loshu region, so details on the shooting and subsequent crackdown have been limited. The following is a chronology of events from reports received so far:

11 August: At approximately midnight, Dema Wangdak, a 45 year-old community leader, is taken from his home in Shugba village and detained by Chinese police.

12 August: Hundreds of Tibetans take to the streets in Loshu to call for the release of Wangdak. Chinese police arrive at the scene and violently suppress the protest, using live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the crowd, as well as beating protestors. At least ten Tibetans are reported to be seriously injured with gunshot wounds, including Wangdaks son, Kunga Sherab, and other family members. A Chinese policeman was later reported to have died following the incident, having been accidently shot in the neck by one of his colleagues.

Security in the region is tightened and an unknown number of Tibetans are detained, with many others said to have gone into hiding. Some reports indicate that following the protest, Chinese security forces arrived in Shugba village and detained Tibetan males above the age of 12 or 13, leaving only women, children and elderly people in the village. It is thought up 200 Tibetans could have been detained. Subsequent reports say some have been released, but it is not known how many were released or how many remain in detention.

17 August: Two Tibetans die in detention: one, an unidentified 22 year-old Tibetan male, died from injuries received during the protest which were not subsequently treated; the other, identified as Lo Palsang, committed suicide. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Lo Palsang committed suicide against the maltreatment of the detainees, including torture, by the Chinese authorities.

Those injured during the protest are reported to be denied medical treatment at the hospital and later transferred to the local detention centre. According to a source quoted by International Campaign for Tibet, Doctors in the hospital are not removing the bullets from the wounds of the injured even though some people are critically ill.

18 August: The bodies of three Tibetans detained following the Loshu protest are returned to their families. It is understood they died from untreated wounds. All three were related to detained village chief Wangdak: Tsewang Gonpo (60), Yeshe (42) and Jinpa Tharchin (18). Tsewang Gonpo was the uncle of Dema Wangdak.

According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, the three Tibetans were refused medical care and had been tortured by the Chinese authorities... [and] succumbed to their injuries in custody.

On the same day, after hearing of her husbands death, Jinpa Tharchins pregnant wife (not yet named) commits suicide.

Date unknown: According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Dawa Lhamo, the aunt of Wangdak, has been severely beaten whilst in detention and is now immobile and unable to speak. The 64 year-old was taken to hospital but family members have been prevented from visiting her.

Two Tibetan men, Tsekhok and Pagya (or Pelgyal), are reported to have been detained by the Chinese authorities for taking photos of the 12 August protest. Both men are from Yundok village in Sershul county. The date of their detention, their current whereabouts and condition are not known.

Sources: BBC, Reuters, International Campaign for Tibet, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Phayul

2. Dawa Tsomo - blogger detained for expressing views
Dawa TsomoOn 23 August 2014, Dawa Tsomo, aged about 20 years old, was detained in Dzatoe (Ch: Zaduo), Jyekundo (Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now part of Chinas Qinghai province). According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, she was detained for violating Chinas internet rules and regulations. The same source said, She had blogged and disseminated articles with political overtones online.

Tsomo is understood to have blogged about the living conditions of Tibetans living in Jyekundo, which was devastated by an earthquake on 14 April 2010. Tsomo is said to have specifically noted the Chinese authorities disregard for the welfare of Tibetan residents.

A source quoted by Tibet Post International said Tsomo had been accused of disseminating information via her phone on the WeChat microblog messaging service. The shared information allegedly included details of the situation in Dzatoe and topics relating to Tibet freedom... and the suffering of Tibet under Chinese rule.

The current condition and whereabouts of Dawa Tsomo are not known.

Sources: Radio Free Asia, Tibet Post International

3. Jigme Guri - monk jailed for five years on unclear charges
Jigme GuriOn 5 September 2014, a court in Lanzhou, Gansu province, found Jigme Guri guilty of actions to split the nation, according to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia. Further details of the charges against Jigme Guri are not known. The current condition and location of Jigme Guri are also not known.

This was the second trial faced by Jigme Guri since his detention in August 2011. The first trial was held in early 2012 (exact date not known) where Jigmes crime was said to be suspicion of instigating anti-nationalist separatism. The outcome of the trial is not clear. Two Chinese lawyers were appointed by his family, but when they arrived to meet their client they were told the trial had already taken place and sent back to Beijing.

Jigme Guri is a 47 year-old monk from Labrang monastery in Labrang (or Sangchu, Chinese: Xiahe) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into Chinas Gansu province). Also known as Jigme Gyatso and Labrang Jigme, he was detained on 20 August 2011 by the Chinese authorities.

In November 2011, Jigme was allowed a visit by his brother during which he reiterated his innocence. Jigme said, If you think that I am a criminal, send me to court for a trial. If I really committed a crime, well then I will gladly accept my sentence, even if it is the death sentence.

On 1 January 2012, it was announced he had been charged with splittist activities. In August 2012, news emerged of the trial held earlier that year. Since then there had been no information on Jigmes case until news of the sentencing was received.

Jigme Guri, an outspoken critic of Chinas policies in Tibet, had been detained three times prior to his detention in 2011; in 2006, 2008 and 2010. He was held between a month and six months on each occasion before being released without charge. During his month-long detention in 2008, he was tortured and had to be hospitalised. Following his release in 2008, Jigme recorded a 20-minute video statement about his ill-treatment and the Chinese governments crackdown in Tibet.

In the video, Jigme says, I, as a witness to truth, am telling through the media the story of Tibetans killed, who have suffered torture in prisons, and about the countless people who have been forced to flee to the mountains and who are too afraid to return to their own homes, so that the media can truthfully report on these situations.

Sources: Radio Free Asia, International Campaign for Tibet
Jigme Guris video statement:

4. Phurbu Rinpoche - falsely imprisoned, mal-treated and in ill-health
Phurbu RinpochePhurbu Rinpoche, who is currently serving a prison sentence on false charges, is reported to be in ill health. It is feared he is being mal-treated and may have been subjected to torture. According to a report on 27 August 2014 by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a visitor to Mianyang prison had recently spotted Rinpoche whilst visiting another prisoner. The visitor told TCHRD, At first I couldnt recognise him as he had become so weak, almost emaciated. It looks like he is not being treated well in prison.

Phurbu Rinpoche (also known as Pangri-na Rinpoche) is serving a sentence of eight years and six months at Mianyang Prison, located near Chengdu in Sichuan province. Now 57, Rinpoche was detained in May 2008 following a peaceful protest march by nuns from Pangri-na nunnery in Kardze, of which Rinpoche is the head. The nuns were protesting against the implementation of a patriotic re-education campaign at the nunnery by the Chinese authorities. No reason was given at the time for Rinpoches arrest.

Rinpoches trial was held in April 2009 but the sentencing was deferred for unknown reasons. In December 2009 it emerged that Rinpoche had been sentenced to eight years and six months for the illegal possession of weapons. The Chinese lawyers that defended Rinpoche said he had been framed and the charges lack(ed) factual clarity and sufficient evidence. Rinpoche was reported to have been tortured in order to extract a confession.

Local Tibetans have also expressed concern over Rinpoches health, which is said to be deteriorating due to the harsh conditions in which he is kept.

Sources: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, International Campaign for Tibet

5. Tsultrim Nyendrak - jailed monk tortured and in poor health
Tsultrim NyendrakGeshe Tsultrim Nyendrak, a 40-year old monk and teacher, was detained in Lhasa in December 2013. It has been suggested he was arrested on suspicion of involvement in separatist activities, however the exact reason for his arrest and eventual charges are not known.

On 31 July 2014, Nyendraks family were informed of the sentencing by the Chinese authorities and told he is serving his term in Chushul prison near Lhasa. The exact date of the trial, carried out by the Intermediate Peoples Court in Lhasa, is not known.

According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Nyendrak has been subjected to torture whilst in prison. The source also said Nyendraks health condition is very poor, and authorities have not acknowledged requests by his family that he be given medical care. There are fears he is being denied medical treatment.

Geshe Tsultrim Nyendrak is from Rabten monastery in Driru (Chinese: Biru) county, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into Chinas Tibet Autonomous Region). Rabten monastery was one of three monasteries in Driru forced to close by the Chinese authorities in December 2013 following protests in the region. The protests began after Chinese authorities demanded residents to fly Chinese flags from their homes.

Sources: Radio Free Asia, Tibet Post International

Download the report (6 page PDF document)

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