Free Tibet is urging the UK government to put pressure on China after major new evidence shows the destruction of religious and cultural sites, torture and detentions, which locals warn is a second ‘Cultural Revolution’.
The new report launched 23 January 2023 by the London-based NGO Free Tibet with its charitable research arm, Tibet Watch, details previously unreported torture, detentions and destruction of Tibetan heritage in Drago in eastern Tibet. Read the report here.
Tibetan’s living in Drago have been under siege by the Chinese government with numerous crackdowns on the Tibetan way of life for some years.
However, Tibet Watch has found the crackdown on freedom of religion and culture escalated under Wang Dongsheng, the newly nominated Chinese Party Secretary of Drago.
Wang Dongsheng was previously involved in mass demolitions and expulsions of thousands of monks and nuns from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Larung Gar.
John Jones, Campaign and Advocacy Manager at Free Tibet, said: “This new report shows how residents of Drago County, known for its strong sense of Tibetan identity and resistance, have been under siege since October 2021, with their cultural and religious heritage coming under attack and locals being detained, tortured and subjected to ‘re-education’.”
‘Desecration in Drago Country: Destruction of Tibetan Religious Heritage, Arbitrary Detentions and Torture’ focuses on events between October 2021 and June 2022. For the first time, the report documents a new extrajudicial facility used for political ‘education’, and information about a military base and prison.
The report shows the scale of the destruction. Satellite photos show before and after images, including the destruction of three colossal statues of Buddha, evoking the Taliban’s destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan 20 years earlier. Evidence also details the destruction of a Buddhist school, a building housing 45 giant prayer wheels, the residence of a revered spiritual leader, and the burning of Drago monastery’s prayer flags.
The report also found new information about security crackdowns in the months following the 2012 mass protest in Drago, which includes primary schools being temporarily used as places to detain and torture protesters, and a police shooting at an entire family of a protester.
Tibet is rich in minerals and resources and is the source of water to Asia, as well as being a military strategic and trade route for China.
The brutal occupation of Tibet by China and the use of torture has been a longstanding and widespread human rights abuse since the 1950s, and one that United Nations treaty bodies have raised directly with China.
Free Tibet is now calling for a global political acknowledgement that Tibet is still under the occupation of China and is one of the least free countries on earth.
The NGO urges international governments to push China into a prompt and full investigation into the destruction of religious and cultural sites in Drago Country.
It’s also urging UN stakeholders to raise Tibet as a specific agenda item in all human rights discussions with their Chinese counterparts, as well as push for open access to Tibet for diplomats, journalists and NGOs.
Free Tibet is also asking the UN international community to urge the Chinese government to decriminalise the use of the image of, or mention of the Dalai Lama, in Tibet.
John Jones added: “The findings of this report show how China has violated Tibetan’s rights to self-determination and freedom as well as using torture and detention. We urge the UK government to take immediate action and lead the international community on safeguarding Tibetan human rights.”
About Tibet Watch
Tibet Watch is a registered charity (Charity No. 1114404) that works to promote the human rights of the Tibetan people through monitoring, research and advocacy. Tibet Watch has an office in London and a field office in Dharamsala, India. We believe in the power of bearing witness, the power of truth. www.tibetwatch.org
About Free Tibet
Free Tibet, is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1987 and based in London, it advocates for a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected. https://www.freetibet.org
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