Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup raise Tibetan national flags as flames rise from their bodies. Zatoe, Keygudo June 20, 2012.
DHARAMSHALA, May 24: A new report on China has painted a grim picture of the world’s most populous country’s human rights record and revealed that Chinese authorities in Tibet continue to repress the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people.
Global rights watchdog, Amnesty International, in its Annual Report 2013 on the State of the World's Human Rights released Thursday said Chinese authorities maintained a “stranglehold on political activists, human rights defenders and online activists, subjecting many to harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.”
In Tibet, Amnesty International said Chinese authorities “continued to repress Tibetans’ right to enjoy and promote their own culture as well as their rights to freedom of religion, expression, peaceful association and assembly.”
“Socioeconomic discrimination against ethnic Tibetans persisted unchecked,” the report said while adding that “numerous people allegedly involved in anti-government protests were beaten, detained, subjected to enforced disappearance or sentenced following unfair trials.”
Since 2009, as many as 117 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
Following China’s criminalisation of the self-immolation protests, the report said that “at least three men were sentenced to up to seven and a half years in prison in separate cases for passing on information about cases of self-immolation to overseas organisations and media.”
Amnesty International further reported about the death of at least two Tibetans as a result of injuries sustained from police beatings in the last year while noting that in January, security forces reportedly shot at Tibetan protesters in three different incidents in eastern Tibet, killing at least one and injuring many others.
“The authorities used “patriotic” and “legal education” campaigns to force Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama. Officials increased their interference in management of monasteries and expelled monks,” the report said.
In China, the Amnesty International report stated that access to justice remained elusive for many with the state continuing to use the criminal justice system to punish its critics.
“Hundreds of individuals and groups were sentenced to long prison terms or sent to Re-education Through Labour (RTL) camps for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief,” the report found.
“People were frequently charged with “endangering state security”, “inciting subversion of state power” and “leaking state secrets”, and were sentenced to long prison terms, in many cases, for posting blogs online or communicating information overseas that was deemed sensitive.”
In 2012, China recorded a whopping increase on public security spending and a further tightening of criminal laws, potentially legalising enforced disappearances.
“The authorities budgeted over 701 billion yuan (approximately US$112 billion) to maintain public security, an increase of over 30 billion from 2011,” the report noted.
“Revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law, adopted in March to be effective 1 January 2013, for the first time authorised police to detain suspects for up to six months for certain types of crimes, including “endangering state security”, without notifying the suspect’s family of the location or reasons for detention. The revisions therefore potentially legalized enforced disappearance.”
Despite China’s assurances on lowering the numbers of death sentences, the Amnesty International report said that China continued to impose death sentences after unfair trials.
“More people were executed in China than in the rest of the world put together. Statistics on death sentences and executions remained classified. Under current Chinese laws, there were no procedures for death row prisoners to seek pardon or commutation of their sentence.”