“They would pour boiling hot water on us”

Stop Torture in Tibet
Stop Torture in Tibet

16th November 2015

Free Tibet launches new torture campaign

Torture, degradation and abuse continue to be used against prisoners in Tibet, while those responsible face no punishment – that’s the stark conclusion of Free Tibet’s new investigation into torture.

Today, as Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren provides evidence to a UN review of China’s torture record in Geneva, Free Tibet has launched a new campaign to stop torture in Tibet.

The truth about torture in Tibet

Working with our research partner Tibet Watch and Tibetan political prisoner association Gu Chu Sum, Free Tibet has investigated the use of torture in Tibet and submitted our evidence (PDF) to the United Nations, which is reviewing China’s record on the use of torture this month.

They tortured us using electric batons, metallic water pipes and handcuffs.  If our answers didn’t satisfy the interrogator, they would pour boiling hot water on us.  They also tied both hands up on the ceiling and beat us on our feet with batons.  We were hanging above the ground.  Sometimes they also used electric batons in our mouth, which caused us to lose consciousness.  During cold days or winter, we were put in cold water. 

These are the words of Gonpo Thinley, just one of the Tibetans who provided testimony about their experiences for our Torture in Tibet (PDF) report.

In addition to shocking first-hand evidence, the report details how Tibetan prisoners are isolated from the world and their families, making it easy for the police and prison warders to torture them. It records deaths in custody as a result of torture and how long-term prisoners on the point of death because of torture released to keep them off the records of deaths in prison.

Despite these abuses, we have found no evidence of torturers and those who support torture facing prosecution or punishment by the authorities in Tibet.

Call on China to Stop Torture in Tibet

Free Tibet at the UN

China has signed the Convention Against Torture, an international agreement which requires countries to put legal measure in place to prevent torture and prosecute those responsible for it. The Committee Against Torture, a team of human rights experts, reviews whether countries have met their obligations under the convention every few years. When China was last assessed in 2008, the committee found torture across China and Tibet to be “widespread” and “routine” and expressed “great concern” about reported torture and state violence in Tibet.

This November, China is being reviewed again and Eleanor and Tibet Watch’s research manager are in Geneva today to give oral evidence to the committee. Their evidence will draw on our latest report and our previous submission in February at the start of the UN review process.

Free Tibet director in Geneva with Golog Jigme

China's delegation to the UN will be questioned by the committee tomorrow (17th) and then respond on Wednesday (18th - the session can be viewed online here between 3 and 6pm, Geneva-time). The committee will then review all the evidence and issue its final report next year.

Taking action over torture

Since the committee’s last review, China has introduced legal changes supposedly intended to stop torture. Our research shows that torture goes on but it is clear that China’s government is sensitive to criticism over torture. Please sign the petition to China's government, and add to the pressure to stop torture in Tibet.