Argument: China has a long history of human rights abuses in Tibet

Issue Report: Tibet independence

Supporting quotes

  • “Proving Truth from Facts”. Released by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile on 7 July 1993 partly in response to China’s white paper.[1] – “Human Rights
The Chinese occupation of Tibet has been characterised by systematic and gross violations of human rights. This has resulted in the death of over 1.2 million Tibetans (one-sixth of the population) between 1951 and 1979 and exile of some 80,000. Human rights violations in Tibet are inextricably linked to China┬╣s colonial policy in Tibet, which cannot tolerate any form of opposition to Chinese absolute rule over this territory. Organisations, such as Amnesty International and Asia Watch, have documented and reported widespread abuses against individual Tibetans and the Tibetan people, their culture and religion. Various United Nations bodies have also continued to hear and consider evidence of human rights abuses in Tibet.”
  • “Tibet Facts No.1: Major Allegations: Key Facts on the Chinese Occupation Invasion and Refugees”. Free Tibet. Retrieved April 19th, 2008 – The Human Cost

    • Reprisals for the 1959 National Uprising alone involved the elimination of 87,000 Tibetans by the Chinese count, according to a Radio Lhasa broadcast of 1 October 1960. Tibetan exiles claim that 430,000 died during the Uprising and the subsequent 15 years of guerrilla warfare.
    • Some 1.2 million Tibetans are estimated to have been killed by the Chinese since 1950.
    • The International Commission of Jurists concluded in its reports, 1959 and 1960, that there was a prima facie case of genocide committed by the Chinese upon the Tibetan nation. These reports deal with events before the Cultural Revolution. Chinese Justice: Protest and Prisons
    • Exile sources estimate that up to 260,000 people died in prisons and labour camps between 1950 and 1984.
    • Unarmed demonstrators have been shot without warning by Chinese police on five occasions between 1987 and 1989. Amnesty International believes that “at least 200 civilians” were killed by the security forces during demonstrations in this period. There are also reports of detainees being summarily executed.
    • Some 3,000 people are believed to have been detained for political offences since September 1987, many of them for writing letters, distributing leaflets or talking to foreigners about the Tibetans’ right to independence.*
    • The number of political detainees in Lhasa’s main prison, Drapchi, is reported to have doubled between 1990 and 1994. The vast majority of political inmates are monks or nuns. A political prisoner in Tibet can now expect an average sentence of 6.5 years.*
    • Over 230 Tibetans were detained for political offences in 1995, a 50% increase on 1994, bringing the total in custody to over 600.
    • Detailed accounts show that the Chinese conducted a campaign of torture against Tibetan dissidents in prison from March 1989 to May 1990. However, beatings and torture are still regularly used against political detainees and prisoners today. Such prisoners are held in sub-standard conditions, given insufficient food, forbidden to speak, frequently held incommunicado and denied proper medical treatment.
    • Beatings and torture with electric shock batons are common; prisoners have died from such treatment. In 1992, Palden Gyatso, a monk who had been tortured by the Chinese for over 30 years, bribed prison guards to hand over implements of torture. The weapons, smuggled out of Tibet, were displayed in the west in 1994 and 1995.
    • Despite China having ratified a number of UN conventions, including those relating to torture, women, children and racial discrimination, the Chinese authorities have been repeatedly violating these conventions in China and Tibet.
    • Nearly all prisoners arrested for political protest are beaten extensively at the time of arrest and initial detention. Serious physical maltreatment has also been recorded in a significant proportion of cases. In the period 1994-1995, three nuns died shortly after release from custody as a result of ill-treatment and torture in detention.
    • The Chinese have refused to allow independent observers to attend so-called public trials. Prison sentences are regularly decided before the trial. Fewer than 2% of cases in China are won by the defence.”
Hundreds of Tibetans are in custody for political reasons. After arrest many remain in detention for three months or more without being charged. Those charged are subject to an average sentence of six and a half years. Beatings following arrest are commonplace, aimed at deterring further protest and to extract confessions. Those sentenced are often tortured.
Accurate figures of those detained are impossible to ascertain owing to the reluctance of the Chinese Government to provide any information, and their insistence that political prisoners are mere criminals. The Chinese have ceased to entertain the possibility of visits by independent international observers (e.g. International Committee of the Red Cross). They have made announcements about prisoners’ release whilst the person in question has been detained for months afterwards, and they have also denied knowing the whereabouts of those believed to be imprisoned. Since the Chinese maintain strict control of travel in and out of Tibet and contact between tourists and Tibetans is difficult, information comes largely from Tibetans fleeing to India via Nepal. Political repression has increased sharply since 1994 and there are now more political prisoners in custody than at any other time in the last six years. It is believed that over 230 Tibetans were detained in 1995, a 50% increase on 1994, bringing the likely total in custody to over 600. At the same time political dissent in Tibet is spreading to rural areas and to wider sections of the community (Cutting Off the Serpent’s Head: Tightening Control in Tibet 1994-1995, TIN & Human Rights Watch/Asia, 1996). This appears to be due to a new Tibet policy announced in July 1994 which followed President Clinton dropping human rights issues from China’s Most Favoured Nation status, and from decreasing pressure from other European Countries (France, Germany) on human rights issues. As a result, the Chinese authorities have given out longer sentences for political offences, increased control over monasteries and nunneries, and extended the crackdown to economic as well as political protests, which are now regarded as having “antagonistic” or “splittist” elements.
Religious freedoms have been severely curtailed and monasteries operate under intense surveillance. The dispute over the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama served to cause the authorities to put more weight behind restrictions on religion and the monitoring of leading Tibetans, and there is increasing propaganda intended to discredit His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a religious leader.”