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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."

2009 a year of arbitrary convictions and heightened repression in Tibet

January 24, 2010

TCHRD
January 22, 2010

The year 2009 was no different when it comes to
violation of human rights of the Tibetan people
inside Tibet by the Chinese authorities. For
Tibetans inside Tibet it’s been yet another year
of heightened security, repression, isolation and
suppression. The year encapsulated with numbers
of highly sensitive anniversaries in Chinese
calendar was dealt with an iron fist. The year
2009 marked 50 years of exile for the Dalai Lama
and the Tibetan people. In five decades the
Tibetan people have suffered enormous hardships
and systematic human rights abuses by the
government of People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Human rights violations continue unabated with
impunity and there is no sign of let up by the government.

During the year 2009, fast track courts in Tibet
issued death penalty to five Tibetans for their
participation in the spring 2008 protests.
Turning deaf ears to the global appeals to
overturn the death penalty, China went ahead to
execute four Tibetans. The Chinese state media
confirmed the execution of only two Tibetans
whereas the Centre had earlier received
information on the execution of four Tibetans.
With that China outshined its notoriety as the
world’s leading practitioner of death penalty,
carrying out more executions than all the other
nations in the world put together. The state
aggressively exhibits its right to sovereignty
through its implementation of death sentences
despite international appeals and a UN General
Assembly resolution on global moratorium on death
penalty. This was evident from the numerous
executions carried out in Tibet, East Turkestan
and that of a Briton with mental disorder for
whom the British government sought clemency.

The Chinese authorities took stringent measures
and heightened vigorous patrolling of the border
areas. The number of refugees’ exodus from Tibet
has dropped significantly in over the past couple
of years. As against the usual average of around
2000 Tibetans fleeing Tibet, during the year 2009
only 691 Tibetans managed to escape and reached
Dharamsala while 627 fled Tibet in 2008. Such
dwindling numbers in the outflow of refugees over
the past few years can be directly attributed to
the government tightening control of the border
area, enormous risk involved for Tibetans
attempting to flee Tibet and Nepalese
government’s full compliance to it’s giant Asian
neighbor’s call for the “Great Wall of Stability
in Tibet” to combat ‘separatism” by checking the
flight of illegal Tibetans across the border and
anti-Chinese activities by Tibetan dissidents in Nepalese territory..

Over the past few years, dominance of political
activities has shifted from the so-called "Tibet
Autonomous Region" ("TAR") to Tibetan areas
outside the "TAR" designate. This is clearly
evident from the total number of arrests,
detentions and sentencing statistics maintained
by the TCHRD. Although it is certain that the
total figures may be far greater than that
documented by the Centre, a total of 1,542 known
Tibetans continue to remain in detention or are
serving prison sentences since spring 2008. Out
of the total, 53.17% (or 820 Tibetans) were from
Sichuan province, the rest are as follows: 19.90%
(307 Tibetans) were from Gansu, 9.01% (139
Tibetans) belonged to Qinghai, 0.19% (3 Tibetans)
were from Yunnan and 17.70% (273 Tibetans)
belonged to the “TAR”. Additionally the figures
for known Tibetans who were legally sentenced
since spring 2008 also point to the fact that
Sichuan has indeed been most active politically.

The year 2009 had been a year of legal
convictions following the pan-Tibet Spring 2008
protests in Tibet. According to the Centre's
documentation, there are hundreds of Tibetans who
are still held without any charges and at least
334 Tibetans were known to have been sentenced by
courts at various levels to varying prison terms
ranging from few months to death sentence. Of
these, 161 Tibetans (or 48.20%) were from Ngaba
and Kardze "TAP" under Sichuan Province. whereas
Tibetans from "TAR" constituted 125 of the total
or 37.42% and a total of 29 or 8.68% were
Tibetans from Qinghai, and 17 Tibetans or 5.08%
were from Gansu Province, one Tibetan from
Yunnan, the origin of one Tibetan sentenced
remains unknown. High arbitrariness in the
sentencing of numerous Tibetans clearly exposes
the summary nature of judiciary in Chinese
administered Tibet. It bring forward the focus
that judicial apparatus in China is politically
motivated and hence dealt with extreme harshness
with people’s aspiration for fundamental human rights.

In almost all the known cases the defendants had
no independent legal counsel and in a few cases
where the defendants were being represented by a
lawyer of choice, the authorities ensured that
these representations were blocked either through
intimidation or through procedural tactics. One
of the most high profile cases in 2009 was the
sentencing of Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche to eight
and a half years prison term. Rinpoche’s lawyer
from Beijing was barred from representing him and
in a closed door trial the court sentenced him to
a fixed imprisonment term on charges of
“possessing weapons” and “embezzlement” which he flatly denied.

During the year, the Chinese authorities
targeted, detained and sentenced Tibetan writers,
artistes, internet bloggers and publishers who
did not engage in overt protest activity, but who
sought to explore and express Tibetan views on
issues that affect Tibetan people’s rights,
culture, religion and Tibet’s fragile
environment. They were mostly charged for
"leaking state secret" and for activities which
are otherwise a standard practice of expression
of opinion or belief. Some of the most prominent
cases were those of sentencing of Kunga Tsangyang
to a five year imprisonment term for writing
essays and photographing environmental
degradation in Tibet, Kunchok Tsephel Gopeytsang
to 15 years for running Chonmei website, Kang
Kunchok, the former editor of Gangsai Meiduo to
two years of prison term. Tashi Rabten, editor of
a banned literary magazine and author of "Written
in Blood" has remained disappeared since July
2009, Dokru Tsultrim, editor of literary magazine
“Life of Snow” was arrested in April 2009, Tashi
Dondrup, singer who released an album “Torture
without Trace” was arrested in December 2009,
Gyaltsen and Nyima Wangdue were sentenced to
three prison terms for posting Dalai Lama
pictures on the popular Chinese chat site QQ.com,
Five monks from Tsakho and Khakhor Monasteries
continue to be detained for producing a VCD entitled Chakdrum Marpo.

Video testimonials are becoming popular for their
sheer effectiveness in communication, coupled
with authenticity of watching and hearing a real
individual speaking in front of the camera. In
2008, the defiant Labrang monk Jigme Guri
fearlessly spoke about torture in detention in a
video testimonial; Dhondup Wangchen documented
many Tibetans video testimonials regarding their
concerns in his documentary "Leaving Fear
Behind"; Kelsang Tsultrim of Gitsang Gaden
Choekhorling Monastery recorded his testimonials
in July 2009 and distributed it widely in his
locality; Ven. Rinchen Sangpo recorded video
testimonials of Tibetans in Golok region in
October 2008 which were released in September
2009. It should be noted that this trend is a
desperate attempt by Tibetans inside Tibet to
have their voice heard in the absence of
independent human rights monitors or media and
international observers. Surge in availability of
pictures and video evidences coupled with the
growing trend of video testimonials indicate an
encouraging rise in citizen journalism in Tibet.

Torture remains endemic in Chinese administered
Tibet. Despite the denial of use of torture by
the Chinese authorities and the claim of
restraint in dealing with the Tibetan protesters,
video evidences smuggled out of Tibet utterly
shocked the entire world regarding the painful
death of a young Tibetan, Mr. Tendar, due to
torture inflicted upon him while in detention.
The Chinese authorities blatantly denied use of
extreme force upon the Tibetan demonstrators
during the spring 2008 uprising in Tibet. The
government ignored a joint communication by seven
United Nations mandates on protection of human
rights and the UN Committee against Torture’s
demand for answers by the government regarding
the use of excessive force and killings of
Tibetan demonstrators particularly in Ngaba County, Kardze County and Lhasa.

Freedom of religion is severely curtailed in
present day Tibet. The Chinese authorities’
tactic of intimidation, restriction of religious
activities and movements of monks and nuns in
religious institutions ensures the steady decline
in the quality of religious education. The
continued stringent enforcement of "patriotic
re-education" campaign ensures a bleak and dark
future for Tibetan Buddhism. In order to achieve
"stability," the authorities continue to
primarily target the monastic community under
various government campaigns to "reform" and
bring the community under control and inculcate
“love for the motherland”. The infamous
“patriotic re-education” campaign was intensified
during the year resulting in widespread violation
of freedom of religious worship and beliefs. In
deliberate moves, the government officials order
the monks to denounce their own spiritual guru,
to abuse their highly respected lamas and perform
acts which are otherwise prohibited under
monastic vows and code of conduct, in the name of
“patriotic re-education” initiated by the Chinese
as a requisite for continuing as a monk or a nun.
The religious persecution in Tibet’s religious
institutions is evident from the fact that
suicides of monks and nuns in Buddhist Tibet has
been on rise since spring 2008 protests in Tibet.
The extreme psychological trauma and imposition
of irreconcilable demands on the monastic
community force the monks and nuns to take the
ultimate step despite the fact that Tibetan
Buddhists believe suicide to be one of the most
heinous forms of sins that violate the cardinal precepts of the doctrine.

In an ethnically exclusionary economic growth,
the development projects do not bring direct
benefit to the Tibetans. The Chinese
administrators in Tibet in calculated and
deliberate allocation of resources award most
contracts to out-of-province state-owned
enterprises rather than to locally owned and
operated businesses. The state is obsessed with
projects involving resource extractions rather
than the development of human capacity. This is
evident in the UN Human Development Report in
where Tibet’s human development index is at the
bottom of all of the PRC’s provinces. The high
level of illiteracy results in Tibetans being at
a significant disadvantage in protecting their
human rights and in enjoying the rights of
citizenship. Making the matter worse is the fact
that ethnic Han Chinese continue to hold top CCP
positions in nearly all counties and prefectures
making it ever difficult for Tibetans to have a say in decision making.

In the name of "progress," resettlement programs
by the government has been uprooting and
disrupting traditional Tibetan ways of life at a
fast pace. In violation of international laws on
development, these displacements occur without
compensation and consent of the affected
population. Also of utmost concern is the
unavailability of affordable health care for the
Tibetans. This is particularly problematic in
Tibet’s predominantly rural areas. Ever mindful
of presenting a positive image of Tibet to the
outside world, PRC focuses its resources and
attention on the cities that attract the most tourists.

Under the rule of government of PRC, education in
Tibet has deteriorated immensely as it has been
treated as a vehicle to propagate and strengthen
CCP’s grip on Tibet. The poor condition of the
schools, low quality of teaching and designing of
a curriculum to brainwash the children in
socialist ideologies and discouragement of
children from speaking their own language and
learning their own history triggers the painful
decision to flee into exile where there is an
opportunity of receiving broad-based modern
education. Under such painful circumstances
parents send their children, oftentimes never to
see them again, trusting strangers and guides to
make the treacherous journey across the Himalayas
where they will be admitted in the network of
schools run by the exile Tibetan government.

Disparities and inequality in education has
resulted in the further economic marginalization
of Tibetans and they are precluded from
employment opportunities on account of inferior
education forced upon them. Since the Chinese
settlers possess advanced education and Chinese
language abilities, many Tibetans are unable to
compete with them in getting jobs. Unless the
government ensures to meet its obligations to
provide the Tibetan children with their
fundamental right to an education, children will
continue to risk their lives by making the
dangerous journey over the Himalayas to receive education in exile.

The Information Office of the China’s State
Council on 13 April 2009 release of "The First
Working Action Plan on Human Rights Protection
2009-2010" was a welcome initiative. This
document promised citizens more legal protection,
better livelihoods, greater civil and political
rights, including rights of detainees and the
right to a fair trial. While it is encouraging to
note that the government put forward a benchmark
document, it is equally concerning to find
China’s failure to implement the protection
enshrined in its law especially in the light of
the summary executions carried out in Tibet and
East Turkestan. The document lists the
theoretical improvements along with age-old
rhetoric on remarkable achievements made in the
field of human rights protection and enjoyment of
human rights and freedom in accordance with law
at an opportune time, the international community
waits for China to prove that it is not the same wine in a different bottle.

2009 was the year when the United Nations focused
strongly on the issue of racism worldwide. The
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms.
Navinatham Pillay, in her statement on the
International Human Rights Day on the theme of
concept of non-discrimination reckoned that
"Minorities in all regions of the world continue
to face serious threats, discrimination and
racism, and are frequently excluded from fully
taking part in the economic, political, social
and cultural life available to the majorities in
the countries or societies where they live"

The annual report in Tibetan and English version
are available on the centre's website.
http://tchrd.org/publications/annual_reports/2009/ar_2009.pdf
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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