Tibetan Refugee Describes Torture, Extortion in Chinese Jail


2003.12.29
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A young Tibetan refugee detained in Nepal and handed over to Chinese authorities this year has described torture and beatings by Chinese guards who demanded bribes of up to 10,000 yuan from Tibetan prisoners in exchange for their release, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The refugee, a teenager who asked that all other identifying details be withheld, said two youths in the group of Tibetans with whom they all escaped were beaten so severely they required hospitalization.

"I was detained for [more than] two months," the Tibetan refugee told RFA's Tibetan service in an interview. "While we were under detention, Chinese officials tortured us on a regular basis. We had to work in fields from 6 a.m. until dark."

"We were kicked each time we went to work and kicked again when we returned from work. Worse was when they tortured us with an electric prod. They poked the rod at different parts of our body," said the refugee, who has now been safely resettled as a refugee in an Asian country.

The refugee was one of 18 Tibetans whom Nepal expelled and handed back to China in May, provoking widespread criticism and appeals from the European Union, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Tibetan government-in-exile. Seven or eight of the 18 remained in custody in Shigatse as of late November, the refugee said.

In the prison where all members of the group were held, guards "secretly demanded 10,000 yuan from each prisoner for his or her release. Most of the prisoners who were released paid 8,000 to 9,000 yuan (U.S. $950 to $1,050) for their release�I paid about 9,000. Seven or eight people who couldn�t pay are still detained in Shigatse."

"After my release I had to stay in hospital for two months. The electric prod really hurt my health and particularly my heart due to shocks," the refugee said.

Before moving them to Shigatse, the 18 Tibetans were detained for 11 days in Nyalam (between Dram and Shigatse), where they were underfed and tortured. Nepalese police also treated the group roughly, the refugee said.

"The Chinese officials asked whether I knew anything about the Tibetan independence activities or do I know anybody who works for independence," the refugee said. "They also asked me whether I knew anything about the Dalai Lama. I replied that I knew nothing about these things. I told them that I went in search of a job since it is so difficult to get jobs in Lhasa. Moreover, I could not go to school because of the high fees in Tibet."

Groups of Tibetans are frequently arrested for entering Nepal illegally. They are often on their way to the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, home of the exiled Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. #####

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