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  • 22 Mar, 2024
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New report by US State Dept reveals China’s widespread torture and human rights abuses against Tibetans


                                                                  Source: US State Dept

In its latest report on human rights practices, the US State Department has raised concerns about the situation in Tibet, calling attention to the Chinese government's policies and actions that have undermined the religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibetans.

According to a recent report, Tibet continues to be a site of significant human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government. The majority of ethnic Tibetans in China live in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Gansu Provinces. While the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee exercises paramount authority over Tibetan areas, ethnic Han Chinese members hold the overwhelming majority of top party, government, police, and military positions.

The report also highlights the Chinese government's use of security forces to enforce administrative measures, including the use of "urban management" officials, who are frequently accused of committing abuses. The security forces are under the dual authority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Central Military Commission.

The report further notes credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment by the government, as well as arbitrary arrest or detention, and political prisoners. It highlights transnational repression against individuals located in other countries, serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, media, and the internet.

Moreover, there are substantial restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of movement. The report also notes serious acts of government corruption and violence or threats of violence targeting Indigenous persons.

The US State Department stated that there were reports and credible allegations of the Chinese government or its agents committing arbitrary or unlawful killings in Tibet. In one example cited by, Ngodup Tsering was reportedly detained and severely beaten by authorities after delivering food to a home for the elderly, and died in police custody in Dartsedo County, Sichuan Province on September 28.

Another report from the same source stated that Chugdar (last name unknown) was detained and severely beaten by authorities in Serthar County, Sichuan Province for organizing a religious gathering, and died in police custody as a result of the beating. The US State Department's report is part of a broader pattern of concerns about human rights abuses in Tibet, including allegations of arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and restrictions on freedom of expression, media, and the internet.

According to multiple sources, there were reports of disappearances in Tibet, with the whereabouts of many people detained by security officials remaining unknown. In February, Tsewang Norbu, a well-known Tibetan singer, attempted to self-immolate at Potala Palace in Lhasa, TAR. While some reports indicated that he died from his injuries, others reported that he was in police custody. However, his location and condition remained unknown as of October. Similarly, in March, Tsering Samdup attempted to self-immolate in Qinghai Province, and sources suggested that authorities had detained him, but his whereabouts and well-being remained unknown.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who is the second most prominent figure in Tibetan Buddhism's Gelug school after the Dalai Lama, has been missing since he was six years old in 1995, allegedly taken by or on behalf of PRC authorities, and neither he nor his parents have been seen since.

According to sources, there were reports of the use of torture and cruel treatment by police and prison authorities towards some detainees and prisoners. There were reports that some Tibetans who were incarcerated or in custody were severely beaten by PRC officials. In March, authorities in Gamba County, TAR arrested Pasang Norbu after he was ordered to close his tour company. Although Norbu’s company was legally registered, authorities accused him of operating an “unsafe” service and beat him before taking him into custody. As of October, his whereabouts were unknown.

Former prisoners reported being permanently disabled or in poor health due to the harsh treatment they endured in prison. They also reported being isolated in small cells for months at a time and deprived of sleep, sunlight, and adequate food. In February, Human Rights Watch reported that Go Sherab Gyatso, a monk who developed a chronic lung condition while imprisoned from 1998-2001, required immediate medical attention because of unspecified “declining health.” Go was serving a second, 10-year term in prison after his 2020 arrest for “inciting secession.” The evidence for the charges against him was never publicly released by PRC authorities.

In July, RFA reported that Tibetan monk Jigme Gyatso died at his home after suffering from long-term health problems connected to frequent torture during numerous imprisonments between 2006 and 2016. Gyatso reported authorities routinely and severely tortured him during his detention. Although authorities announced no official cause of death, Gyatso suffered persistent health issues after his release in 2016.

There were no reports of officials investigating or punishing those responsible for previous years' unlawful killings and other abuses. Impunity for human rights violations was widespread.

The report highlights various forms of repression that Tibetans continue to face, including restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. It also notes the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary detention of Tibetans who express dissenting views.

The report also documents the Chinese government's efforts to control and manipulate Tibetan Buddhism, including the appointment of its own Panchen Lama and the suppression of traditional practices and teachings.

In addition, the report highlights the discrimination faced by Tibetans in education and employment opportunities, as well as in access to basic services like healthcare and housing. The report concludes that the situation in Tibet continues to deteriorate, with the Chinese government's policies posing a serious threat to the human rights and dignity of the Tibetan people.


Read the complete report here.

Edited and collated by Team TRC