02/07/2009, 00.00
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Tibetan prime minister in exile: China has no respect for rights of Tibetans

by Nirmala Carvalho
Samdhong Rinpoche denounces arbitrary prison sentences, persecution, violations of rights. He says that the international community wavers between supporting Tibetans' rights and indifference. But he talks about his hope that proclaiming the truth is still valuable.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - "In China there is no rule of law, no fair trials, and many Tibetans have been sentenced arbitrarily to years in prison." Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, tells AsiaNews about the daily violence carried out by the Chinese authorities against the rights of the Tibetan people. In anticipation of the upcoming session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which from February 9-11 in Geneva (Switzerland) will discuss respect for rights in China.

Rinpoche says that many Tibetans have been sentenced to years in prison, "all . . . without any trial, or importantly without any evidence and even so-called ‘confessional statements’ were extracted under torture. Our Tibetans were not even allowed to plead their own cases, let alone get a proper defence. And sadly, the world community is aware of their system or lack of the Chinese criminal justice system, and yet nothing has been done to rectify this.

"On 10th March 2008, the world was witness to the suppression and violence of the Tibetans inside Tibet, and even though many world leaders were very vocal in their support, the Chinese government continued in their oppression and on many occasions even intensified their violations against the Tibetans, and their reintensified religious reeducation programme is only one example of it. Since 1996, more than 11,000 monks and nuns were expelled since 1996 for opposing 'patriotic re-education' sessions conducted at monasteries and nunneries.

"For the past 50 years at the Human Rights Commission, not a single resolution was successfully passed condemning violations in the world. So keeping in mind their record of inability to contain human rights violations, if I do know if this meeting in Geneva will also be a kind of ritual. However, it is important from the point of view of awareness, world leaders and governments and the international community will be reminded of the gross human rights violations of China.

"Repressive and unequal taxation system are further exacerbating the conditions of poverty for Tibetans in rural areas. Most of the basic rights associated with a welfare state, like the right to housing, education, health, remain unfulfilled.

"For the Tibetans also, China has intensified its birth control programmes in Tibet. For example, the authorities in Kandze (Ganzi in Chinese, Sichuan) have proposed changes to their existing family planning policies to 'reduce the number of children allowed to Tibetans'. The proposal call for a reduction in the numbers of children that Tibetan workers and urban residents in the prefecture can have from two to one and from three to two for farmers and herders. There are also reports that 'reduced child quotas' are also being imposed on Tibetans in some areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Gansu and Qinghai provinces, which comprise part of the Tibetan area of Amdo. Reductions in the number of children permitted would enable the local authorities to collect extra revenue from Tibetans in the form of penalties and fines for 'excess' children."

The situation is even worse for Tibetan women, who are effectively deprived of respect. Rinpoche says that "Tibetan women in prison for political reasons are subjected to torture, beating, and mistreatment. Since 1987, 1 out of 22 of them has died in prison. Ngawang Sangdrol, a Tibetan nun first imprisoned at age 13, has been beaten badly on several occasions because of repeated participation in protests at the Drapchi prison. Her sentence was extended for a third time in late 1998 to a total of 21 years for her involvement in demonstrations, most recently during May of 1998."

2009 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and the exile of the Dalai Lama. Samdhong Rinpoche has also been in exile since then.

"I was born in Tibet, and for me this is a painful part of my life. We are grateful to India for welcoming us, and to the Tibetans around the world I want to encourage them to keep alive the hope of the resolution of the Tibetan issue. 50 years struggle in the life of a nation is not long, and one day the Tibetan issue will be resolved. Up until then, keep your faith, your Tibetan identity, culture, your rich religious heritage, and guard them for our future generations."

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Government asks Tibetan monks to defend Chinese state
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