UN Panel Orders Inquiry into China’s Repression in Tibet

Geneva: A United Nations (UN) watchdog investigating torture has ordered a thorough and independent inquiry into China’s excessive use of force against peaceful Tibetan protesters particularly monks in Kardze county, Ngaba county, and the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

The Chinese government violent clampdown on peaceful Tibetan protesters since 10 March this year in Tibet, left 218 Tibetans dead, 1290 injured and 6705 arrested or detained.

The UN Committee against Torture’s forth-periodic review on China was held from 7 to 10 November in Geneva, Switzerland. In its concluding observations, the UN Committee against Torture issued a set of recommendations to China on 21 November.

The panel called for prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and should ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.

It asked the Chinese government to ensure that all Tibetan detainees should be provided prompt access to an independent lawyer and independent medical care and the right to lodge complaints in a confidential atmosphere, free from reprisal or harassment.

It ordered investigations or inquests into the deaths, including deaths in custody, of persons killed in the March 2008 events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties.

On the issue of enforced disappearance, the UN committee underlined the need to adopt all necessary measures to prohibit and prevent enforced disappearances, to shed light on the fate of missing persons, including Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and prosecute and punish perpetrators, as this practice constitutes, per se, a violation of the Convention.

Outlining follow-up measures, the UN committee against torture said it invite Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Special Rapporteurs.

The Committee of independent experts will review China’s next report on the implementation of torture convention in November 2012.

During the current review prominent former political prisoners Phuntsok Nyidron had testified before the Committee. She was tortured during her 15 years imprisonment.

Mr. Li Baodong, head of the Chinese Government delegation at the UN, reported several amendment and new regulations introduced in China’s legal system.

However, Mrs. Felice Gaer, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the reports of China and the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, expressed serious information gap in the delegation’s responds. She particularly mentioned about the discrepancies between legislative protections against torture and their implementation on the ground. She expressed frustration at the lack of data on police actions against Tibetans. She held a booklet and said that it contained names of 817 Tibetans who had disappeared following the protests in Lhasa this year and demanded China provide information on their whereabouts. China stated that due to the State Secrets Law they were not able to provide details.

Ms. Gaer also demanded information on two religious figures Bishop Su Zhimin and Gendun Choekyi Nyima who had been missing or disappeared since May 1995.

In testifying before the Committee Mr. Li Baodong, said “We have zero tolerance for torture”.

Mr. Li said that he has transmitted the details of the 817 Tibetans to relevant department for verification and assured to investigate on it.

However, he expressed difficulty in verifying over 200 people in the list due to inadequate information including identity number and proper address.

With regard to specific cases including the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, he said that he will refer back to Beijing for information.