DHARAMSHALA, June 26: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the Dharamshala based rights group, today held a conference here to commemorate International Day in Support of Torture Victims and to remember those who have suffered torture under the Chinese government.
Executive Director of TCHRD, Tsering Tsomo, led the discussion along with former political prisoner Dawa Tsering and US legal intern John Gaudette.
Tsomo began the discussions referring to a new book by a former Tibetan political prisoner, who wished to remain anonymous, detailing the widespread torture he suffered and the oppressive crackdown on self-immolations in Tibet by the Chinese authorities.
Dawa Tsering spoke of his experiences inside a Chinese prison in the Tibetan capital Lhasa while recalling the extensive beatings he endured along with the use of electric batons, forcing him to lie naked on ice and making him denounce the exile Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. He also mentioned the death of a fellow 17-year-old prisoner who died as a result of persistent torture by Chinese officials.
John Gaudette brought attention to China’s frequent violations of the Convention Against Torture, describing China’s torture laws as “hollow” with infringements being “widespread and rampant.” Despite various mechanisms within the convention to ensure all states comply, China’s refusal to cooperate or recognise its authority mean citizens are subject to arbitrary arrest and detained in ‘black sites’ and unknown prisons, he added.
TCHRD, in its statement on the International Day in Support of Torture Victims China, pointed out that although China, as a state party to Convention Against Torture, is obliged to prevent torture and punish torturers, the country’s implementation of the convention is “superficial and torture remains unchecked.”
The rights group stated that China has “categorically rejected any mechanism in the Convention Against Torture that would facilitate international cooperation on preventing torture” and refused to “work with or even recognise the competence of the Committee against Torture.”
“China refused to agree to the expansion on the Committee against Torture (Articles 21 and 22) and refused to work with the Sub-committee on Prevention. This is a total refusal to work with the international community to eradicate torture in China,” TCHRD said. “Instead, China offers denials and vague promises. The value of China’s promises is indelibly written on the bodies and seared into the minds of its torture victims.”
The group noted that although in Tibet the “brutal attack on helpless victims is frequent” with Chinese military and paramilitary forces “disappearing” Tibetans who demand freedom and human rights, the determination of Tibetan to fight for their fundamental rights has not diminished.
“The barbaric and brutal Chinese response to the Tibetan non-violent movement demonstrates China’s weakness, not its strength. When the whisper of human rights or a photo of the Dalai Lama results in torture, the weakness of the Chinese in Tibet is exposed,” TCHRD said. “The brutality of the Chinese government has not diminished the determination of Tibetans to fight for their human rights.”