Tibetan man beaten to death in police custody

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Free Tibet media release: 22 August 2013
Immediate use

Tibetan man beaten to death in police custody

On August 8, police in Maywa township, eastern Tibet (1), beat a Tibetan to death in custody. The case is the second death in detention in 2013 that Free Tibet can confirm, though details of the first cannot be disclosed to protect sources.

Guldrak (thought to be 29 years old), arrested for theft on August 8, was subjected to a severe beating during the interrogation in the detention centre and died.

It has been reported that the interrogation was led by Rinchen, the head of the Public Security Bureau in Maywa township, but this cannot be confirmed.

At first, police tried to disguise Guldrak's death as suicide, but this was rejected by around 500 local Tibetans who staged a sit-in protest in front of the detention centre where Guldrak was being held and demanded the truth about the cause of his death. In response to the protest, local police accepted responsibility for Guldrak’s death and offered 50,000 Yuan (US$8,000/£5,200 approx) for his funeral services and another 500,000 Yuan (US$80,000/£52,000 approx) for compensation.

At the time of writing, Free Tibet has received no indication that a criminal investigation regarding Guldrak’s death is in progress.

Earlier this year, another Tibetan died in custody following an arrest for alleged crimes of a political nature. To protect sources and others associated with the incident, Free Tibet cannot disclose further details at this stage. These two cases follow two confirmed deaths in custody in 2012 (2).

China is undergoing Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations this year to assess its record on protecting the rights of its citizens (3). All UN member states are subject to UPR every four years on a rolling basis. China rejected substantive recommendations on enforcing the rule of law and ending impunity after its last review in 2009 (4). This year, China also seeks election to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the intergovernmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe (5).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“Chinese security forces in Tibet violate the basic principles of human rights and China’s own laws with impunity. Despite pious words in China’s constitution and some recent improvements in its laws, legal protection for anyone accused of political crimes remains almost non-existent and as this case shows, for all Tibetans the rule of law is a fiction.

“This year, China faces a United Nations review of its human rights record and it also seeks election to the UN’s Human Rights Council. This death is yet another reminder that much as China wishes to be perceived as a modern and constitutional state taking its rightful place on the world stage, the reality is that it remains a brutal, authoritarian and racist state which will not hesitate to use or turn a blind eye to lethal violence against Tibetans.”

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Notes to editors

(1) Location: Maywa township, Kyungmchu County (Chinese: Qiongxi), Sichuan province
(2) Tsering Gyaltsen, reported May 2012 http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/case-studies/tsering-gyaltsen and Karwamg, July 2012 http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/tibetan-monk-dies-chinese-detention
(3) Universal Periodic Review http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
(4) Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: China, 2009 http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G09/162/99/PDF/G0916299.pdf
(5) China notification of candidature for Human Rights Council elections http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/90