China committing crimes against humanity in Tibet: Tibetan NGOs

DHARAMSALA, 30 Oct: Leading Tibetan NGOs today expressed grave concern over “China’s crimes against humanity in Tibet” and the “urgent and deteriorating situation” in Driru county in Nagchu, Traditional Tibetan Province of Kham.

“The custodial death of Lhamo, a mother of three and the ongoing detention of her cousin Tenzin Tharpa substantiates the deteriorating situation in Driru, “ A coalition of six Tibetan NGOs from here – Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet, National Democratic Party of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet-India and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy stated in their joint statement.

The New York-based rights group  Human Rights Watch reported on Thursday that “Lhamo, a herder from Driru died in a local hospital in August 2020 shortly after being transferred there from police custody and stated that the “Chinese authorities should investigate the death of a Tibetan woman in custody and release her wrongfully detained cousin.”

Lhamo’s brother Tashi Dhondup thanked the congregation for their support and appealed everyone to campaign and press for the release of Tharpa and all other Tibetan political prisoners from a Chinese prison so that they won’t suffer the same fate as his sister.

Additionally, the NGOs said in their statement that, Chinese authorities have sentenced Lhundrub Drakpa, a popular Tibetan singer from the region to six years in prison in June earlier this year for performing a song that criticised China’s repressive government policies in Driru.

Drakpa, who was  detained in May 2019, less than two months after his song, ‘Black Hat”, was released in March and his sentencing came more than a year after he was held in “pretrial detention without any access to legal representation and fair trial rights.”

While the statement further stated that “The murder, torture, and arbitrary detention of Lhamo, Drakpa and Tharpa are part of a widespread and systematic attack against ordinary Tibetans in Driru,” Tsering Tsomo, the Director of TCHRD, a rights group based in Dharamsala described the situation for Human Rights in the region as egregiously poor if not worst than Syria.

Citing evidence collected by exile Tibetans, the NGOs stated that “these human rights abuses are deliberately designed to affect thousands of Tibetans in Driru in the furtherance of the Chinese state’s ‘stability maintenance policy.”

“More than 600 Tibetans from Driru alone have been imprisoned in the past several years at Chushur Prison near Lhasa,” the statement added citing a source from the region.

Earlier this year, the US-based NGO Freedom House has described Tibet as the second least free region in the world after Syria for five years in a row.

Tsomo, visibly troubled by the situation added that “sometimes our choices come down to what’s more important, a persons life or information.”

“Repressive regulations and directives issued by Driru County authorities since 2013 are further evidence that the attack on the civilian population is well organized and not a random occurrence and also that it encompasses both a large number of people and a large geographic area including also the neighbouring Sog (Ch: Suo) County,” the statement added.

The coalition called on “the international community including democratic governments, United Nations, human rights organisations, and civil society actors to pressure the Chinese government to release Thundrub Drakpa, Tenzin Tharpa and all other Tibetans unjustly subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention.

The NGOs concluded by demanding an independent investigation into the custodial death of Lhamo and other human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Driru and full and unfitted access to all Tibetan areas to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures mandate holders as they have demanded.

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