DHARAMSALA, June 27: Torture strikes at the core of the physical and psychological integrity of a human being, stated Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a Tibetan advocacy group based in Dharamsala while presenting the first-cut screening of a new documentary film on torture to commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26.
Expressing solidarity with the victims of torture, TCHRD said, “On this day, we honour and support those who have suffered unjust, cruel and degrading forms of physical and mental torture. We also express our deep concern over the use of torture against persons exercising their basic rights and freedoms.”
The 27-minute documentary film titled ‘Through Flesh and Bones: Stories of Torture and Survival in Tibet’ captures testimonies of six Tibetans from different walks of life who were subjected to unimaginable torture for exercising their basic rights by participating in non-violent protests demanding freedom for Tibet. The documentary also highlights china’s sophistication of torture methods over the years from the time China occupied Tibet in 1959 to the present generation of Tibetans who still find themselves in prison and endure various forms of torture, including medical torture-with an intention to kill the victim.
Four of the six torture victims interviewed in the documentary film personally attended the screening along with local Tibetans, news reporters and Tibet supporters.
‘Through Flesh and Bones’ is as much a film about courage, dignity, tolerance and survival as it is about revisiting the painful past of the six Tibetan torture survivors and various forms of torture used by the Chinese regime against Tibetans.
“The story of the six Tibetan torture survivors is a testimony to enduring human virtues such as courage, dignity and tolerance in the face of inhumane brutality. By retaining their humanity, including their willingness to forgive their torturers in favour of peaceful China-Tibet reconciliation, these six Tibetans, and countless other victims of torture, have triumphed over their torture,” TCHRD said in a statement released on the day.
Noting the significance of this year’s theme for the commemoration, TCHRD said: “‘Fighting Impunity’ is the theme for this year’s commemoration. The theme is relevant to the persistent problem of torture in Tibet where impunity for the perpetrator is common practice and torture goes unpunished. Law enforcement officers often in the name of ‘national security’ enjoy unbridled discretion in using torture to intimidate and terrorize political dissidents, and extract confessions.”
The UN General Assembly passed Resolution 52/149 on December 12 1997, proclaiming June 26 as ‘the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture’ that aims for the total eradication of torture and the effective implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.
Produced by TCHRD, ‘Through Flesh and Bones’ is made by Abhishek Madhukar and Jean Lepcha. Mr Madhukar works as a print, photo and video-journalist. His work has been published in various national and international magazines and newspapers. For the last six years, he has been based in Dharamsala, India, primarily reporting as a freelancer and a correspondent for Thomson Reuters publishing over a hundred articles and photographs on the Tibet issue. Ms Lepcha is a video journalist from Sikkim, based in New Delhi. She has covered video reports for Global Post, Russia Today, Ruptly wire services, News Modo, and the likes.
TCHRD also plans to screen the documentary at various human rights-related film festivals across the world to reach out to a larger audience.