Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Amnesty calls on China to reveal fate of Tibet detainees


Amnesty International on Wednesday urged China to reveal what happened to people detained during the March crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet, as the Olympic torch heads for Lhasa.

The London-based human rights group, publishing an update on the situation in Tibet since the outbreak of violence, said more than 1,000 people were held but only a small number had faced “questionable” trials.

Amnesty also called for independent observers to be allowed free access to Tibet.

In its report, People’s Republic of China — Tibet: Access Denied, Amnesty studied what it called the “severe censorship” facing journalists and Tibetans, plus reports that detainees had been beaten and deprived of adequate food and proper healthcare.

“There is very little information coming out of Tibet, but the information we have paints a dire picture of arbitrary detentions and abuse of detainees,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director.

“With the torch relay about to enter Tibetan areas, this should be an opportunity to shine some light on the situation there,” Zarifi said.

The Olympic torch, en route to Beijing for the Summer Games, was to spend three days touring Tibet.

However, China said on Wednesday that the flame would only spend one day there, going through Lhasa on Saturday.

The Beijing Games’ organizing committee said 50 journalists from 31 news organizations would be allowed to cover the Lhasa relay. Tibet has been off limits to foreign reporters and tourists since the crackdown.

Amnesty said that limited reports emerging from Tibet said that police and security forces had raided hundreds of monasteries, nunneries and private homes, confiscating mobile phones, computers and other communications equipment — blocking the flow of information.

Those who send information out to foreign media or human rights groups about protests or arrests risk arrest and imprisonment, Amnesty said.

“The complete lock-down in Tibet is allowing human rights abuses such as arbitrary detentions, ill treatment and severe censorship to go unreported and unpunished,” Zarifi said. “Hundreds of people languish in Chinese prisons for peacefully expressing their opinions, in appalling conditions and without their relatives even knowing where they are. The passing of the torch should allow journalists a chance to see the actual situation on the ground and promote the ‘Free and Open Olympics’ promised in the Beijing Olympic Action Plan.”

The Chinese authorities have targeted Tibetan artists who had no direct involvement in the on-going protests, Amnesty said.

China accuses Tibetans of targeting the Olympics following the crackdown in Lhasa, though exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed his support for the Beijing Games.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died in a government crackdown on the anti-Chinese government riots that erupted in Lhasa on March 14.

China has reported killing one Tibetan “insurgent” and says “rioters” were responsible for 21 deaths.

Also See: Olympic torch is paraded through key military oasis

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