Torture in Tibet

“The practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the  [Chinese] criminal justice system.”

- United Nations Committee Against Torture 2015

Torture is an everyday reality in Tibet.

Torture is used by China as a weapon against dissent, creating a climate of fear.

Our findings show that torture, abuse and degradation of Tibetan political prisoners continue in Chinese-occupied Tibet and that prisoners continue to be killed from torture and convicted as a result of confessions obtained by torture. 

I was hung by my shackles from an iron chair without any clothes and they tried all sorts of tortures while I was there, like beating my back with tiny metal sticks, kicking me and giving electric shocks to my mouth. The pain the chair caused was too extreme to feel any of the pain caused by the metal sticks and kicking. When they gave me electric shocks, I could feel nothing. I only smelt the burning of my own flesh.

- Golog Jigme Gyatso, Tibetan torture survivor

The techniques of torture

Instruments of torture in Tibet

Free Tibet has found that political prisoners in Tibet are subjected to a range of torture techniques and cruel and degrading treatment. You can read about their experiences in their own words here.

Former prisoners have regularly reported being beaten with electric batons, butts of guns and other heavy objects. There were also repeated cases of detainees being subjected to electric shocks during interrogations.

Some Tibetan prisoners have been hung from the ceiling for periods lasting several hours. Others have reported being shackled to an iron "interrogation chair", which forces the detainee to bear their entire weight on their wrists and legs. Political prisoner Golog Jigme tells of how a senior prison officer warned other guards that if he spent any more time tied in this position it could kill him.

Prisoners are also subjected to cruel and degrading treatment. Several former prisoners reported being denied food and water, with one recalling that he and his fellow detainees had to drink water from a toilet. Prisoners have also been denied blankets and mattresses, despite the cold weather, or made to sit outside in freezing cold water. Access to political prisoners is tightly restricted, with access to doctors and lawyers regularly denied and family members regularly unaware of where the detainee is being held.

Case studies

Stop Torture in Tibet: Juliet Stevenson reads Tsering's testimony (with Chinese subtitles)

Hear four survivor testimonies, read by British actors Juliet Stevenson, Dominic West, Alan Rickman and David Threlfall. In most cases identities have been protected.

Read more case studies here, including written versions of the video testimonies as well as others included in our 2015 submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.



What we are doing

At the United Nations

  • In February 2015, we submitted our first dossier of evidence to the Committee Against Torture. CAT raised almost all of the issues and cases we identified directly with the Chinese government.
  • In October 2015, we submitted further detailed evidence to CAT, as it prepared for its final review of China.
  • In November 2015, Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren travelled to Geneva to meet with the committee.

With governments and international institutions

  • Free Tibet is raising cases of torture and prisoners at risk of torture with governments. A number of those cases have already been taken up by governments, who have demanded information and action from China.
  • We are pressuring governments to challenge China over torture, including in the "Human Rights dialogues" many of them conduct.

With the government of China

  • Our international petition to Chinese Minister of Justice Wu Aiying called on China's government to fully implement the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture and properly enforce its own laws.

With the public

  • Free Tibet will continue to keep its supporters and the public informed about torture in Tibet and any responses to the evidence we have presented from the Chinese Government. We encourage to supporters to find the location of their nearest Chinese embassy and write them a letter, calling on them to end the use of torture in their justice system.

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