Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Ms Saunders spoke about the increasing number of demonstrations by Tibetans and monks across the Tibetan plateau, and the continuing repression by the Chinese government authorities. The demonstrations are always peaceful (with one sole exception when there was some violence towards Chinese). The demonstrators call out for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. ICT has monitored 98 demonstrations and it is clear that the Tibetans want to communicate their feelings and send a message to the world.
4000 people have been detained in Lhassa and Gang Tsu and 400 were released.
Many of the detained people have been transported elsewhere in Tibet. Many had no shoes and all had been badly beaten before they were loaded on to trains out of Lhassa. Many older Tibetans remember the same thing happening in the 1950s, and most people thus transported never came back.
A family in Lhassa carrying out religious rituals following the loss of a small child were all shot from behind, and witnesses threatened if they dared to complain.
There is a major crackdown and it is difficult to obtain details of the number of dead and wounded by the Chinese authorities.
Ms Saunders introduced Gyaltsen Dolkar, who spent 12 years in Drapchi prison in Lhassa and spoke of her experiences there. She was 19 and a nun in 1990 when she was arrested for taking part in a demonstration to ask for religious freedom and human rights in Tibet. All those who took part in the demonstration were sentenced to between 3 and 7 years detention. During her time in prison she was subjected to brutal interrogation and tortured by electrical instruments, hung from a tree and beaten, to the point of losing consciousness. On another occasion, her arms were crossed behind her back, she was strung up from a wooden beam and beaten all over her body, kicked, and hit with a belt on her head. She still has mental and physical scars from these experiences.
Thanks to international pressure, she was liberated before the end of her sentence, but in 1993 was sentenced again for having recorded songs in prison expressing suffering and conditions in prison. At a trial before a court, she was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but later, without a trial, she was given an extra eight years.
Many people are sent to “re-education camps”, and people are sentenced without trial. There are many “disappearances”.
Gyaltsen Dolkar expressed the hope that all countries supporting human rights will exert the maximum pressure on China so that all political prisoners can be liberated as soon as possible. She added that in speaking of China, the ordinary people are not aware of what is going on in Tibet or even in their own country.
Thomas Mann thanked Gyaltsen for her talk and said that the EU should be more determined and condemn the repression in China and Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama should again be invited to address the European Parliament.