“The practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the [Chinese] criminal justice system.”
Torture is an everyday reality in Tibet.
Torture is used by China as a weapon against dissent, creating a climate of fear.
Our findings show that torture, abuse and degradation of Tibetan political prisoners continue in Chinese-occupied Tibet and that prisoners continue to be killed by torture and convicted as a result of confessions obtained by torture.
“I was hung by my shackles from an iron chair without any clothes and they tried all sorts of tortures while I was there, like beating my back with tiny metal sticks, kicking me and giving electric shocks to my mouth. The pain the chair caused was too extreme to feel any of the pain caused by the metal sticks and kicking. When they gave me electric shocks, I could feel nothing. I only smelt the burning of my own flesh”. – Golog Jigme Gyatso, Tibetan torture survivor
The Techniques of Torture
Free Tibet has found that political prisoners in Tibet are subjected to a range of torture techniques and cruel and degrading treatment. You can read about their experiences in their own words here.
Former prisoners have regularly reported being beaten with electric batons, butts of guns and other heavy objects. There were also repeated cases of detainees being subjected to electric shocks during interrogations.
Some Tibetan prisoners have been hung from the ceiling for periods lasting several hours. Others have reported being shackled to an iron “interrogation chair”, which forces the detainee to bear their entire weight on their wrists and legs. Political prisoner Golog Jigme tells of how a senior prison officer warned other guards that if he spent any more time tied in this position it could kill him.
Prisoners are also subjected to cruel and degrading treatment. Several former prisoners reported being denied food and water, with one recalling that he and his fellow detainees had to drink water from a toilet. Prisoners have also been denied blankets and mattresses, despite the cold weather, or made to sit outside in freezing cold water. Access to political prisoners is tightly restricted, with access to doctors and lawyers regularly denied and family members regularly unaware of where the detainee is being held.
Deaths and Disappearances
They said that however many people like me they killed, nobody would ever find out.- Tenzin Namgyal, Tibetan torture survivor
Being detained in Tibet can be like disappearing from the face of the earth. Tibetans are often imprisoned after unfair trials and authorities do not provide information about why they have been arrested and where they are. Family members often do not know that their relatives have been detained, and those that do find out are not permitted to visit the prison.
Isolated from the world, Tibetan prisoners are at grave risk of torture and being killed in prison. In July this year, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, one of Tibet’s most high-profile political prisoners and a victim of torture, died suddenly in prison, 13 years into a twenty-two year sentence. Calls from international governments and organizations for medical parole had been ignored. Authorities then cremated Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s remains against his family’s wishes. Authorities have also withheld bodies of other Tibetans that have died in custody, due to fears that the body will reveal evidence of mistreatment and the manner of their death. Families of deceased prisoners have also been threatened and told not to reveal any details of the death.