Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Account for Missing and Dead; Reopen Lhasa to Media and Monitors

March 26, 2008

Human Rights Watch

(New York, March 24, 2008) – The Olympic torch, which was lit today in
Olympia, Greece, should not go through Tibet unless the Chinese
government agrees to an independent investigation into the recent unrest
in Tibetan areas, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Olympic torch is set to pass through the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on
June 20-21. Chinese government officials have confirmed their plans to
continue despite the ongoing protests and crackdown across ethnic
Tibetan areas.

Since March 10, unprecedented demonstrations have taken place in the
Tibetan Autonomous Region, at least three Chinese provinces, and
Beijing. Chinese security forces have responded by dispersing the
protests, in some cases violently. The Chinese government claims that 18
civilians and one policeman were killed, and a total of 623 people
injured during the protests in Lhasa on March 12. Tibetan exile groups
have reported that at least 80 people died during the protests. The
Chinese government has now admitted opening fire on demonstrators in
Sichuan and shooting four people. Foreign journalists were expelled from
these areas shortly after the demonstrations began, and lines of
communication of have been cut or heavily restricted.

“Either Tibet is open or it’s not. If it is, let independent monitors
and the media go there. If it’s not, the torch shouldn’t go there
either,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights
Watch. “The Olympic torch should not be turned into a smokescreen to
cover up human rights abuses.”

With a large but unknown number of Tibetans detained in Tibet and
adjoining provinces in the aftermath of public protests, Human Rights
Watch said Beijing Olympic officials’ resolve to run the Olympic torch
through the region could exacerbate tensions, invite new protests, and
provoke further repression.

Human Rights Watch has called for the Chinese government to:

     * lift its lock-down of all Tibetan areas, including allowing full
media access;
     * account for the missing and dead from this month’s protests;
     * publish the names of all individuals detained and their places of
detention; and
     * give immediate access to independent monitors who can investigate
whether detainees are being tortured or mistreated.

Human Rights Watch said governments, the International Olympic Committee
and Olympic sponsors of the torch relay should press China to reopen the
region and allow an independent investigation, ideally headed by the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, into
recent events in Tibet.

“The IOC and the sponsors of the torch relay – Coca-Cola, Samsung and
Lenovo – should not associate themselves with a highly repressive
situation where abuses are very likely, in violation both of the Olympic
Charter and of the basic principles of corporate social responsibility,”
said Richardson. “Acting responsibly is good publicity. Being morally
blind is not.”

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on China ahead of the Beijing
Olympics, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin):
+1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French, Mandarin):
+852-8198-1040 (mobile)
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-20-7713-2767; or +44-790-872-8333
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank