Dharamshala: On the 40th anniversary of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration remembers all Tibetans who have been forced into disappearance inside Tibet and strongly urges the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately release them.
Enforced Disappearance of any individual, regardless of whether it is for a short term or long term, is a crime against humanity and consists of multiple violation of range of internationally protected rights– the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the right to be free from arbitrary detention, the right to recognition before the law, and the right to a fair trial.
In its first Article of the International Convention to Protect All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the United Nations human rights instrument stipulates that no individual shall be subjected to enforced disappearance under any circumstances nor can it be justified against them. China, as one of the charter members of the UN, is required to render all assistance to the UN in fulfilling its duties under the Charter, including acting in accordance with the instruments and conventions in question, regardless of whether they have signed and ratified them.
Since Chinese occupation, Tibetans have frequently been subjected to prolonged and unnumbered periods in detention without any information regarding the wellbeing or whereabouts of the arrestees being provided to family and relatives, causing grave concern. Furthermore, arrestees are frequently severely tortured and subjected to ill-treatments while in detention, resulting in grave health complications that eventually result in prisoner death due to poor health conditions.
One of the most notable enforced disappearance cases in the world is that of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, who was abducted and enforced disappeared from the public eyes by the Chinese authorities when he was only 6 years old along with his entire family. Even after 28 years, there is still no information on the wellbeing of the Panchen Lama, his whereabouts, or whether his existence remains in doubt, despite repeated appeals and demands for his release from the international community to the PRC.
PRC’s Enforced Disappearance method is a two-fold approach by which it creates terror in victims’ minds and bodies as well as in their families and relatives while simultaneously torturing prisoners in order to force confessions from them in order to justify the unlawful arrest and detention of Tibetans. A significant majority of Tibetans unlawfully arrested–lamas, monastics, community leaders, writers and poets, intellectuals, singers, nomads and students–are subjected to enforced disappearance for months before being brought before the Chinese courts for trial for their alleged “crimes” against the Chinese Communist Party.
DIIR reaffirms the call made by three independent UN experts on 10 August for the PRC government to provide credible information about nine Tibetan environmental human rights defenders who were detained and sentenced to lengthy prison terms and calls for their immediate release.
As much as the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law allows for enforced disappearances, it is imperative to replace it with a set of procedural safeguards that are internationally acceptable for suspects of “endangering state security” and “terrorism”. The Tibetan political prisoners subjected to enforced disappearance should be immediately released by China and their families should be informed of their whereabouts and conditions of imprisonment.
-Filed by the UN, EU, and the Human Rights Desk, Tibet Advocacy Section, DIIR