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Authorities openly threaten those who circulate information with “torture”

April 1, 2012

29 March 2012

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the policy of terror openly pursued by the Chinese authorities in Gan Lho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (甘南藏族自治州) in the northwestern province of Gansu, where the police have posted notices in public places in which “criminals” who circulate certain views and information are threatened with “beating” and “torture” (རྡུང་རྡེག).

The existence of the notices was revealed by Tibet Post International, a Tibetan news website based in Dharamsala, in northern India. The site operates under the aegis of the Himalayan Literacy Trust, a Reporters Without Borders partner organization.

“The aim of these torture threats is to instil terror in all those who might circulate information about the government’s repressive policies,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By posting warnings of physical reprisals, the Public Security Bureau is directly violating article 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which China has signed. This article says that ‘An order from (...) a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.’

“We call on the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to open an investigation based on this notice published by the Chinese authorities and to condemn their use of such threats. The police must immediately withdraw these posters and stop legitimizing the use of torture and physical mistreatment for criminal actions that are deliberately defined in vague, loose terms open to broad interpretation.”

According to a report yesterday on the Tibet Post International website, the notice has been posted in at least six of Gan Lho’s counties and one city-county. Gan Lho is part of Amdo, the northernmost of the three traditional regions of Tibet.

The notice calls on the public to inform on “criminals” who “threaten the social stability of Gan Lho” and lists a series of prohibited activities that include “corrupting” the public with “ideas of splitting the nation,” inciting “illegal activities,” harming national security, destabilising society, “agitation between ethnic groups” and promoting “illegal organizations.”

All of these actions “will be met with violent beating/torture by the Public Security Bureau,” the notice says.

The list of illegal activities also defines the means of communication and information whose use is forbidden for “criminal purposes.” They include “speech and the distribution of written information,” “cartoons,” “home-made materials,” “videos,” “websites,” “emails and audio files,” and “SMS texts.”

The notice finally promises informers that they will get protection, confidentiality and a reward of 5,000 Chinese Yuan.

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