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"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."

"Looking at Criminal Cases to Examine the Non-Special Policies Towards Ethnic Minorities"

August 5, 2009

by Woeser
High Peaks Pure Earth
August 3, 2009

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost
by Woeser originally written for Radio Free Asia
on June 30, 2009 and posted on her blog earlier today.

The blogpost, which examines China's approach to
ethnic minority policy, was written after deadly
riots broke out in a factory in China's south
between Han Chinese and Uighur workers and before
the current unrest in Xinjiang that is attracting
international media attention.

"Does This Kind of Special Policy Really Exist?"
By Woeser
July 24, 2009

Recently, due to clashes between several thousand
Han Chinese and a few hundred Uighur workers in a
factory in Guangdong province, the internet has
been loaded with extremely harsh words towards
Uighurs. This is similar to what happened last
year in March in the wake of the Tibet incident.
The internet was loaded with extremely harsh
words towards Tibetans, uttered by authorities as
well as ordinary people. At the time, people were
already discussing the special policy known as
‘three restraints and one leniency’ (fewer
arrests, fewer sentences, fewer death penalties
and greater leniency) and ‘two restraints and one
leniency’ (fewer arrests, fewer death penalties
and greater leniency). This time, the armed clash
between Han and Uighur workers contributed more
to the troubles caused by the ‘three restraints
and one leniency’ and ‘two restraints and one
leniency’ policy. So, what is this special policy
about? Based on information gathered from the
internet, let’s have a simple account of what the policy is.

The so-called ‘three restraints and one leniency’
policy was formulated in 1980 as an important
part of Hu Yaobang’s ethnic minority policy,
which consisted in being ‘lenient in punishments’
to people from ethnic minorities when handling
criminals and in applying the principles of
‘three restraints and one leniency’. The
so-called ‘two restraints and one leniency’
policy, according to information gathered, was
stipulated in the No. 5 official document issued
by the Chinese Central Government in [1984] and
the original text stated “when dealing with
criminals from ethnic minorities, we have to
adhere to the principle of killing less and
arresting less, and, as a general rule, we must
be lenient in those matters.” These two policies
were four years apart, and called ‘two restraints
and one leniency’ policy was more practical than
‘three restraints and one leniency’ policy.
However, since the origins lay in the first
policy, and because his other policies were
really daring and his speeches were considered to
exceed what is proper, thus, Hu Yaobang was nicknamed Hu Luanbang*.

On the internet a lot of people are protesting
the injustice, arguing that the two policies
seriously violated the constitution, for
according to the constitution, the citizens of
the People’s Republic of China are all equal
before the law. This sounds quite right. If we
change the way we think, what do we base
ourselves on when faced with the same crime,
ethnic minorities should enjoy special rights
when Han people have to endure harsh punishment?
Therefore, we can totally understand that Han people took the issue to heart.

But if we take as an example the Tibetan
territory of this past half-century, have these
two policies been applied over the years? A long
time ago, for instance between the ’50s and ’70s,
before the special policy was drawn up, the main
policy applied to Tibetans was for more
punishment against "rioters," in addition to
severe punishment of various kinds of
"counter-revolutionaries" as in inland Chinese
regions. Countless Tibetans charged with ‘acts of
rioting’ were beheaded. According to records of
‘Extracts gathered from important documents from
Tibet Autonomous Region’, in 1980 the Tibet
Autonomous Region held a “meeting for the
implementation of policies”, and numbers recorded
in the meeting are the following: “According to
rough statistics, people affected by or involved
in rioting are counted in hundreds of thousands,
which represent more than 10% of the total
population”. These numbers are naturally
appalling. But real numbers are much higher than
those released during the meetings of the Communist Party.

I have interviewed in the past the leader of a
Tibetan rebel group, who is a Han**. As early as
1969, Tibetans were sentenced by court to death
by shooting because of a so-called ‘second riot’.
Later, they were found to have been killed by
mistake, the miscarriage of justice was redressed
and the families received ‘comfort
compensations’. This leader of the Tibetan rebel
group said: "Tibetans are too good-natured, when
they are about to be shot, they say ‘thanks’;
when they are given 200 RMB, they also say
‘thanks’; when they are given 800 RMB, they say
‘thanks’ as well; these Tibetans really are
pitiful”. A Tibetan who has experienced the ‘Red
Terror’ several times says: “So many bloody
incidents have frozen our Tibetans hearts. The
so-called ‘disturbances’ of 1987 and 1989 are in fact linked to this hurt.”

What about previous years in Tibetan areas,
including the years since the policy was drawn
up, has there been anyone who was granted pardon
according to the principles of ‘three restraints
and one leniency’ or ‘two restraints and one
leniency’? Ngawang Sangdrol, a Buddhist nun,
yelled slogans in the Barkhor in 1990 and was
consequently arrested when she was only 12 years
old; she became the youngest political prisoner
and remained 11 years behind bars. In 2005,
writer Dolma Kyap was arrested because he wrote a
book manuscript commenting on Tibetan history and
reality, and he was condemned to a ten and a half
year-jail sentence for "agitation and subversion
of the country." Since the age of six, the
reincarnation of the tenth Panchen Lama has been
imprisoned in a place that is still unknown and
has remained there for 14 years already simply
because he had been recognized by His Holiness
the Dalai Lama. Nonetheless, from last year until
today, in the whole Tibetan territory, the huge
suffering that Tibetans undergo is known
throughout the world, and it is even more a
tremendous irony of the policies of ‘three
restraints and one leniency’ and ‘two restraints
and one leniency’. It is only that the lies have
actually become truth after having been repeated
a thousand times, and as a result they have
tricked countless Han crowds who do not know the
truth. If ethnic minorities are to enjoy their
rights, it is essential that these facts be clarified.

June 30, 2009, Beijing

*Note: 'luan' (?) means disorder in Chinese.
** This refers to a rebel group made up of Red
Guards during the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.

"Looking at Criminal Cases to Examine the Non-Special
Policies Towards Ethnic Minorities"
By Woeser

Quite a few people commonly assume that ethnic
minorities in China, such as Tibetans and
Uighurs, enjoy the privileges of some type of
special policy of "two restraints and one
leniency" (fewer arrests, fewer death penalties
and greater leniency). I recently wrote a brief
article for Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibetan
programme, which was also translated into English
and published on High Peaks Pure Earth. Somebody
left a comment criticising that "these special
policies are applied in criminal cases, not in
political cases. As a Tibetan grown up in China,
you should know the difference."

I would like to thank the person who posted the
comment for calling my attention to this,
reminding me of the known criminal cases that
happened on Tibetan grounds; why not conveniently
look at some of these specific cases to examine
the Party’s special policies towards "ethnic
minorities." To keep it brief, I am going to
introduce two exemplary cases. One of them
occurred in Lhasa two years ago. There is an
establishment named "Boundless Recreational
Centre" where people can indulge in sensual
pleasures. Apart from owning several hundred
prostitutes, they also possess numerous thugs
coming from inland China and because they have
high officials working in the background at
management level, they intimidate others,
dominate the market, and at every opportunity
gather a mob to beat people up; they are the
"mafia." One day, these thugs smashed the bar of
a Tibetan businessman; his friend, a Tibetan
painter, was also beaten and injured.
Subsequently, the two men and another friend, a
Tibetan entrepreneur, decided to pay the centre a
visit to demand an explanation and request the
troublemakers to formally apologise; a few of
their fellow townsmen, all of whom were from
Chamdo, accompanied them. In order not to make
the situation any worse, they called and informed
the police before they set off. Following their
arrival at the centre, because they found the
doors shut and the staff gone, a few Tibetans
broke some window panes; this held up traffic for
one hour but did not cause a serious brawl. Soon
after, those three Tibetans were arrested and
sentenced to four years of harsh punishment by
Chengguan District's Lhasa City People's Court.
On the surface, this judgement was passed for the
offence of stirring up trouble and disturbing
public order. But in reality, it was because it
alerted Zhang Qingli, the Autonomous Region’s
party secretary, who labelled all these Tibetans
as belonging to an entirely fabricated “Khampa
Organisation”, groundlessly turning them into a
politically tainted "criminal clique." As a
result, these people received unreasonably harsh
punishment. Even if the defendants had made an
appeal and demanded to commute the original
sentence, it would still have been dismissed. Up
to this date, the three Tibetans are still in prison serving their sentence.

The other criminal case happened four years ago
in the countryside of Gomjo (Ch. Gongjue) County
in Kham. In the name of carrying out official
duties, the deputy chief of the county’s Public
Security Bureau led three policemen to the
countryside, but in reality they were taking out
their guns and hunting. They shot animals
belonging to first- and second-grade nationally
protected species. Moreover, they asked the
villagers to provide horses to give them a
lift... Because it was not his turn to provide a
horse, one villager expressed the wish to refuse,
so the deputy chief and the three policemen
brutally beat him up causing severe injuries and
life-long disability. The villager’s family took
this matter to court and the police side actually
had to pay a small indemnity which the family did
not accept. After three years of continuous
appeals to the higher authorities, they finally
won the lawsuit and received increased
compensation, but they had also evoked the
officials’ utmost hatred. They hence deliberately
provoked them, invented a different criminal
matter and then finally arrested the disabled
villager’s family on suspicion of stirring up
trouble and disturbing public order. They were sentenced to three years.

In Tibet, these kinds of unjustly administered
criminal cases are ubiquitous because officials’
own interests are high above the law.
Consequently, criminal cases are created,
politicised, and furtively used by public organs
who often abuse public power to retaliate against
a personal enemy. There are too many cases to be
counted that they have been determined to be
"political cases" and received harsh punishments.
An acquaintance of mine, a white-collar Tibetan
worker who used to work for some bank in Lhasa,
once shouted "Free Tibet!" when he was drunk and
went to prison for a whole year. In all these
cases, can we find any trace of the so-called
"two restraints and one leniency" policy? Of
course, when relatively minor crimes of thievery
are actually reported to the authorities only
very few fines are given. If they take people
into custody, they would have to provide food and
accommodation, it would be too much trouble, so
they commonly just turn a blind eye and do not
ask questions. Such practices are also rather
common. But this has always given people the
wrong impression that these thieves enjoy the
privileges of the special policy of "two restraints and one leniency."

In fact, a netizen with a very good sense of
humour quite accurately summarises the CCP’s
policy towards ethnic minorities like this:
"there is suppression for main issues, and there
is connivance for minor issues; firmly confine
religion, and Mandarin Chinese precedes; the Han
are in power, the Party is the heart;
transmitting wealth from the West to the East,
present small economic sops and baits; accelerate
assimilation, and peace reigns under heaven."
Subsequently, I also very much agree with what
one of my friends, who belongs to the Hui
minority, once said: "with the aim not to give
certain groups of the Han masses any reason to
feel dissatisfaction and grievance towards ethnic
minorities and with the aim to give those big Han
fascists as little excuses as possible to assault
ethnic minorities, I suggest to abolish those
'superficially clever', sympathetic policies
towards ethnic minorities that in fact only exist
in name, but are devoid of any substance...".
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