UN Report: Special Rapporteur on Torture, E/CN.4/1995/34 (excerpt)

12 January 1995
Fiftieth session
Item 10 (a) of the provisional agenda
Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Nigel S. Rodley, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1992/32
Information transmitted to the Government and replies received
89. By letter dated 15 July 1994 the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information according to which the practice of torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment against persons held in detention centres, prisons or labour camps throughout China continued, despite the prohibition of such treatment under Chinese law. The practice was said to be employed as a means to extract confessions or to intimidate or punish prisoners.
90. To register a complaint of torture during incommunicado detention, police and prison officials must be approached, and this requirement was said to dissuade most detainees and prisoners from making such complaints. While the procuracy is responsible for investigating complaints concerning torture, it was alleged that procurators often ignored such complaints because an investigation might pose a conflict of interest with the procurator’s role as State prosecutor in criminal cases. In this regard, it was said that the need for the procurators to cooperate closely with the police served as a disincentive to investigate torture complaints. Consequently, few investigations or prosecutions of torture complaints were said to have been carried out.
91. Among the most common methods of torture reported were severe beatings or whippings, the use of cattle prods to induce electrical shock, and shackling with handcuffs or leg-irons, often tightly and with the victim’s body in a painful position. In those prisons which also serve as labour camps, working conditions were reportedly physically gruelling and at times posed a threat to the health and safety of the prisoners. Persons detained for political reasons were reportedly subjected to especially brutal treatment.
106. The Special Rapporteur also sent the cases of alleged torture in Tibet summarized in the following paragraphs.
107. Phuntsog Yangki, a nun reportedly serving a five-year sentence in Drapchi prison for participating in a pro-independence demonstration, was allegedly beaten severely for singing nationalist songs with other nuns on 11 February 1994. She died in the Police Hospital in Lhasa on 4 June 1994, allegedly as a result of the beatings. An investigation that would conclusively establish the cause of death was impossible as her body was cremated, against the wishes of her family.
108. The Government replied that in May 1994 the prison administration had discovered that Phungstog Yangki had tuberculoma and sent her to hospital for treatment. After her death, the prison had arranged for her remains to be taken for burial in accordance with Tibetan custom. Her family had expressed its gratitude to the prison for the way it had cared for and tried to save her and its handling of subsequent events.
109. Gendun, his brothers Tobgyal, Tse Tse, Tsetob, Apho, and Tenzin were arrested at the Bu Gon monastery in Dragyab (Chagyap) on 9 February 1994, during the Lokhor Gonchoe Chemoe festival. The detainees were allegedly placed on trial at a rally called by officials, at which they were promised that if they declared that “Tibet is not independent”, they would receive no punishment. Upon refusing to make the declaration, they were reportedly separated and taken either to a prison in Chamdo or to the district prison at Dragyab, where they were allegedly tortured with electric cattle prods. Tenzin and Tobgyal were said to have been released, but the other detainees were reportedly continuing to undergo ill-treatment in prison.
110. Lhadar, a monk from Darze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was reportedly arrested with four other monks on 20 August 1993 for hanging pro-independence wall posters in Lithang region. He was allegedly beaten and tortured to death at Lithang district prison, although the authorities reportedly maintained that he had committed suicide in custody.
111. Sonam Tsering, a member of the Tsholho Dance and Drama Troup, was detained on 17 July 1993 by Chinese officials who were investigating the distribution of protest pamphlets. After refusing to respond to interrogation at the police station, he was allegedly made to sit naked on a chair on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his back, had electric shocks applied to his face, neck, hands, legs, and lower back, and was beaten. During 10 days of detention, he was subjected to a three-hour interrogation session each day, with beatings and electric shocks during six of the sessions.
112. Deng Ge, a teacher, Hong Ke and Meng Sha, mid-level Tibetan officials, and an unidentified monk were reportedly severely beaten with a spiked wooden implement at the police station in Markham, Chamdu prefecture, Kham. The four were arrested after Deng Ge had tried to intervene when the other three were being beaten by police with fists, feet, iron bars and bricks outside a cinema in Markham. Deng Ge reportedly passed out and required hospitalization.
113. June Lhapka, a primary school teacher from Nemo village, was allegedly beaten during or shortly after her arrest on 21 June 1993 and was said to have been in a serious condition.
114. Rigzin Choedron, also called Kunsan Choekyi, was arrested on 22 September 1989 during a political demonstration in Lhasa and allegedly beaten in Gutsa detention centre, resulting in kidney damage.
After spending three years in Trisam Labour Re-education Centre, she was released in September 1992 with wounds and abscesses on her back and damage to one kidney. She died on 10 October 1992, possibly as a result of ill-treatment suffered in detention.
115. The following persons, detained for political reasons in Drapchi prison, Lhasa, were reported to suffer from serious illness as a result of or exacerbated by mistreatment or heavy physical labour performed in prison:
(a) Ngawand Kunga, a monk from Drepung, who was allegedly forced to run with a stone on his back in 1990 or 1991, was said to suffer from liver problems. According to the Government he had completed his sentence and been released;
(b) Phuntsog Dorje was said to suffer from kidney problems as a result of heavy labour. According to the Government, he was in good health;
(c) Lobsang Tsondru, a monk in his 70s, was allegedly beaten by troops during an April 1991 prison protest, and was said to suffer from heart trouble. The Government replied that he was in normal health;
(d) Ngawang Samten, a monk from Drepung, was said to suffer from swollen joints as a result of hard labour. The Government replied that no such person was a prisoner in Drapchi;
(e) Tsering was said to have become deaf as a result of a severe beating. According to the Government he was in good health;
(f) Tanak Jigme Sangpo, who had allegedly been put in solitary confinement in a cold cell in 1991 and 1992 after a protest, was said to suffer from high blood pressure.
116. Reports were also received concerning the situation of Bao Tong, serving a seven year prison sentence for 1989 political activities, who was transferred in March 1994 from Qincheng prison to Fuxing hospital in Beijing after suffering from severe pain from inflammation of the shoulder joints. He was also said to suffer from a reduced white blood cell count, chronic gastritis, growths in his colon and intestines, swollen lymph nodes, constricted salivary glands and arthritis requiring regular injections, and six possibly cancerous tumours in his thyroid gland. His family were allegedly denied access to his medical records and were concerned that he was not receiving adequate medical care.
117. The Government replied that prison authorities had guaranteed the rights of Bao Tao and when he fell ill had provided the necessary medical care. His medical condition was basically stable and his physical condition was normal.
118. By the same letter the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of a number of cases transmitted in 1993 regarding which the Government had replied that official investigations were pending.
Urgent appeals
119. In addition to the above-mentioned cases, the Special Rapporteur transmitted to the Government of China five urgent appeals on behalf of the persons mentioned in the following paragraphs. The date on which the appeals were sent is stated in parentheses at the end of the corresponding summary.
120. Phuntsog Gyaltsen, a Buddhist monk serving a 12 year prison sentence in Drapchi prison in Lhasa, was reportedly seriously ill and incapacitated, suffering from liver and stomach ailments as a result of sustained beatings received in prison. Despite the state of his health, he was allegedly being forced to perform prison labour, such as digging, emptying toilets and cultivating vegetables. He was said to be in need of urgent medical attention (15 June 1994).
121. On 7 September 1994 the Government replied with respect to this case that no person named Phuntsog Hyaltsen was being held in prison. The Government also stated that prisons in the Tibet Autonomous Region did not practise torture and that the guards respect the legitimate rights of prisoners and always accord them humanitarian treatment.

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