The latest Annual Report by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has been released today. Enforcing Loyalty is a comprehensive documentation of the deteriorating human rights situation throughout Tibet in the year 2000. In a year where Beijing made overt attempts to enhance its international image, with the release of their high profile propaganda piece – the White Paper – and their signing of the Memorandum of Understanding – an agreement with the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights relating to human rights standards – China still remains one of the few nations of the world that institutionalises human rights abuses.
The past year saw an increase in almost every area of repression and violations of fundamental freedoms by the Chinese authorities. Beijing’s obsession with stability and control saw the reinforcement of older policies and the imposition of new, restrictive measures. Political and religious freedoms faced heightened methods of control; Tibetans endured continued arbitrary arrests and detentions, along with unabated torture; women suffered an increase of physical violations; and children still face bleak and limited futures due to the highly discriminatory education and employment policies currently in practice.
The report details how religious freedom was the victim of the greatest forms of repression this year. Infringements on the right to religious belief were implemented and enforced across every sector of the Tibetan population without exception. The intensification of the ‘patriotic re-education’ campaign saw an increase of “work teams” sent to even the remotest of monasteries and nunneries, causing major disruption to religious studies and waves of expulsions, including the closure of four more religious institutions, for dissent against the Beijing policies. TCHRD has recorded 862 Tibetan expulsions from religious establishments, including 147
nuns, for the year 2000, bringing the total recorded number to 12,271 since the commencement of the “Strike Hard” campaign in 1996.
“One of the core objectives of this campaign has been to combat the deep devotion of the Tibetan populace to the Dalai Lama,” said Mr. Lobsang Nyandak, Executive Director of TCHRD. Consequently, increased religious restrictions during the year extended to the general populace, and especially to Tibetans in government employ. Methods of control adopted included illegal raids on houses, searching for religious altars and the banned photo of the Dalai Lama, and attempting to enforce the loyalty of government employees through punitive testing and threats to their careers. The celebration of traditional and religious festivals were also severely curtailed, especially the birthday celebration of the Dalai Lama.
The denial of freedom of speech and expression continues, with 451 known political prisoners currently detained in Tibet. TCHRD has documented 26 arrests during the year 2000 linked to political activities – peaceful protests, possession of pictures and audiotapes of the Dalai Lama, or guiding Tibetans to Nepal. Any connection with schools run by the Tibetan exile government is also a potential cause for detention, and all returnees from India are under intensified scrutiny and increased restrictions.
The report also documents how torture remains a major element of maltreatment within the prison system, despite denials from the Chinese authorities. TCHRD received reports of the deaths of two political prisoners this year, and another 22 political prisoners received sentence extensions. Extensive information was also received from former inmates regarding the 1998 Drapchi Prison Protests.
The year 2000 saw China continue to violate the rights of women and children in Tibet. The ratification of the Conventions protecting these rights has had no affect on reducing the volume of abuses on women through forced sterilisation and contraception procedures that are placing their lives and health at serious risk. Conversely, reported incidents seem to be on the increase. With government complicity prostitution is on the rise throughout Tibet, and with it, the increasing risk of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.
Tibetan children face an increasingly uncertain future. Education and employment are subject to intense levels of discrimination and consequently are depriving adolescents any real chance of learning or a career. Reports from recent refugees all corroborate the evidence that education and healthcare facilities are all congregated around the mainly Chinese-settled urban areas, further intensifying the discrimination on the majority of Tibetan people who live in the poor, isolated rural areas.
The report details how discrimination is rampant throughout all sectors of Chinese administration. Refugee testimonies reveal a deep-seated racial prejudice among Chinese employers, which automatically categorises Tibetans as “incompetent and backward,” commented Mr. Nyandak. This extends out to the majority of the Chinese immigrants and therefore affects not only the
areas of business, education, employment and healthcare, but all facets of Tibetan life, including public representation, housing, and taxation. The policy of population transfer is also still actively employed by Beijing, further contributing to the discrimination and marginalisation of Tibetans in their own country.
Consequently, due to the combination of repressive restrictions in Tibet and the constant deprivations relating to the ability to subsist, TCHRD has recorded the escape of approximately 2660 Tibetans into exile during the year 2000. Of these, 900 were children under 18 years of age, 507 were women, and 642 were religious clergy. These refugees are the ongoing source of information for TCHRD, however, according to Mr. Lobsang Nyandak, “the information in this report is just a fraction of the true picture of the situation in Tibet today.” The most prominent of these recent arrivals in India was the high profile religious leader, the 17th Karmapa. The Chinese authorities had previously projected him as being a major pro-Chinese religious figure, so it is worth heeding when he states that, “Tibetan religion and culture have reached the point of complete destruction.”
Within the report’s list of 11 recommendations, TCHRD highlights the lack of productive results from the engagement of China by international bodies in bilateral dialogue. Mr. Lobsang Nyandak commented that, “Bilateral dialogue has been consistently utilised by Beijing as a method to evade international scrutiny and liability.”
We strongly urge all United Nations member states to urgently review their current policies, and recognise that the more productive means to improve the human rights situation in Tibet and in China is to censure China in all international forums for its continued violations of human rights and disregard of international norms.