On Monday 27th June, three Tibetan torture victims will testify their experiences under the Chinese government. Opening Judge Baltasar Garzón´s prestigious course at El Escorial, entitled “Torture and Terrorism” the Tibetans will reveal the ongoing horror of China's abuse of the Tibetan people and their continued impunity by the international community. The conference will unite two generations of Tibetan torture victims with Tibetan experts on China´s repressive actions in Tibet , Dr José Elías Esteve Moltó, legal expert on Tibet in international law and other international experts and victims of torture.
In his opening statement, Judge Garzón states that one of the course's aims is to “analyze and discuss those norms and attitudes that lead to and condone torture but do not persecute or punish it… and to ask ourselves what we can do about it.” Emphasising the suffering of torture victims he continues “there is one aspect that particularly worries me, and that is the impact that torture, one of the most wretched actions that can be committed by a human being, has on the victims. What they feel and how they recover from the humiliation and degradation, as human beings.” Linking the subject of torture with terrorism, Judge Garzón says “the terror generated by a terrorist organisation and that produced by guerrilla warfare or by a State in fighting it contain an element of evil and are, unfortunately, a current phenomenon.” The Tibetan people have faced systematic torture both in and outside prison, those who defend their fundamental rights, including the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama have been defined or sentenced as terrorists by the Chinese State, yet are recognised as innocent victims of discrimination and colonial dictatorship by many international human rights monitors, challenging the boundaries between State and international definitions of terrorism.
Takna Jigme Sangpo, a teacher, was first arrested and sentenced in 1960. His courage and determination to speak out against Chinese prejudice and injustices led to him receiving a 41 year cumulative prison sentence. He organised many of the prison-based protests that have come to represent the Tibetan´s struggle for justice, and was finally released in 2003 aged 77. Palden Gyatso spent 33 years in prison, detention and labour camps. His release in 1992 and escape into exile exposed Chinese torture techniques as he smuggled out a range of torture equipment used on him and fellow Tibetans. The author of Fire Under The Snow, ( Fuego bajo la nieve) Palden Gyatso lost his teeth after extended facial beatings with electric batons, and yet the Chinese judicial system categorises the monk as a dangerous “counter revolutionary,” denying him recourse to justice within China . Like the other torture victims here, Ngawang Sangdrol resisted Chinese attempts to eradicate her Tibetan identity and was first arrested and charged with “counter revolutionary sedition” aged 11. In the face of extreme violence and cruelty, Sangdrol epitomizes the strength of non-violent resistance, receiving a 21 year extended sentence at 13- the longest sentence given to a female Tibetan- for continuing to resist Chinese measures of torture by writing and recording songs of freedom with other female political prisoners.
Expert evidence on the breadth of repression and current torture practices will also be provided by Ngawang, a researcher for Tibet Information Network, whose sister died in Drapchi prison as a result of the torture she endured. Kalsang Phuntsok Lama, is President of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest Tibetan-run organisation campaigning for Tibetan independence, he has travelled around Asia , America and Europe , accompanying Tibetan victims of Chinese repression on their speaking tours and has spoken at global forums, including the UN Commission on Human Rights. Dr José Elías Esteve has a doctorate entitled “The legal status of Tibet in International Law” and has written a book “ Tibet : the frustration of a State. The Genocide of a People. ( El Tíbet: La Frustración de un Estado. El Genocidio de un Pueblo .)