DHARAMSALA, May 30: Torture and sexual abuse are rampant in China’s ‘Political Re-education Centres’ in Tibet, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said.
The Dharamsala-based rights group made the revelation based on a first-hand account written by a former detainee’s(whose identity has been withheld for security reasons) detailed account of the attempts made by the Chinese government at Re-education Centres to neutralize the faith and loyalty for exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Sexual abuse is apparently rampant in the re-education centres and is particularly targeted against the nuns, the rights group said.
“Many nuns would lose consciousness during the [military] drills. Sometimes officers would take unconscious nuns inside where I saw them fondle the nuns’ breasts and grope all over their body,” the Tibetan monk wrote in his personal diary.
The Tibetan Monk was among other monks and nuns forced to return home and abandon studies in monastic institutions located outside Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in the past several years and the TCHRD said the first-hand account written by the Tibetan monk validates anecdotal evidence collected by them in recent years on the existence of such ‘extralegal centres used to educate ‘politically unreliable’ Tibetans.’
He was among many other monks and nuns forced to return home and abandon studies in monastic institutions located outside TAR in the past several years. The monk was pursuing his education in Tsongon (Ch: Qinghai) Province when he was ordered to return to Sog County or face severe consequences, the Dharamsala-based rights group said.
The Tibetan monk is said to have spent about four months in a re-education centre in Sog County, Nagchu prefecture in the so-called TAR.
Except for ‘two or three laypersons’ all other inmates at the re-education centre where the monk was held were monks and nuns.
Though the State Security Bureau officer has told the Monk that he is being taken to a school and not prison, the monk soon realized that the re-education center was a prison and all he received in the form of education were attempts to neutralize the faith and loyalty for Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, TCHRD added.
Further, inmates at the ‘Political Re-education Centres’ were subjected to torture and other cruel and degrading treatment including collective punishment, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, prolonged wall standing and beatings.
As the Monk wrote that he was ordered to learn by heart the Chinese national anthem, a Chinese song and Tseten Dolma’s ‘The Sun and the Moon are Daughters of the Same Mother’ within three days or he wouldn’t let him off easily by a Chinese guard, TCHRD said it confirms the authenticity of a 2016 video of Tibetan nuns in military-style uniform singing a popular ‘red song’ of China’s official Tibetan soprano Tseten Dolma.
Even after the release of the Tibetans from the ‘Political Re-education Centres’, they are required to report to their respective local police stations. The number of times all former inmates were ordered to report before Chinese police station in their hometowns ranges from once every day to once every three days and once a week.
And the monk wrote that when they go to report, the police officers would make them clean up their workplace, do their laundry and wash their dirty dishes. And the officials would warn them not to join monasteries and not to travel outside.
Further, the monk wrote that they are not allowed to travel outside beyond their county town while the SSB had seized their national ID cards and has not returned it yet.
“We have lived in this condition for almost one year and three months now unable to exercise our right to freedom of movement, education and employment. All we have got after listening to their instructions [behaving well] are not benefits but more restrictions and control. It is hard to even breathe living and suffering this kind of racial discrimination,” the Monk wrote.
With the recent case being that of the partial demolition of the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute where monks and nuns from Nagchu Prefecture were expelled and forced to return to TAR, TCHRD said that since 2012, China has forced many Tibetan monks and nuns studying in Tibetans areas of Amdo and Kham to return to their respective hometowns in TAR as part of the intensified policy to control and manage Tibetan monastic population.
The monks and nuns were then held in ‘re-education’ centres for weeks and months without any access to the due legal process. These illegal re-education centres are another form of the dreaded ‘Re-education Through Labour’ system (Ch: laojiao) that Chinese authorities claimed to have abolished in 2013, TCHRD added.
TCHRD further called on the Chinese authorities to guarantee the human rights of all Tibetans including the monks and nuns illegally subjected to re-education and return their national ID cards immediately without any conditions and pressed Chinese authorities to cease implementing repressive policies and address the underlying causes of discontent and protests in Tibet.