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People's Republic of China: Further information on torture and ill-treatment / fear for safety

, Index number: ASA 17/034/1998

Five nuns, Choekyi Wangmo, Tashi Lhamo, Dekyi Yangzom, Khedron Yonten and Ngawang Choekyi have reportedly died in Drapchi prison after being plaved in solitary confinement. There is no further news of Ngawang Sungrab, Gyaltsen Choephel, Ngawang Sangdrol (f), Ngawang Choezom (f), Ngawang Tenzin (f) and Tanak Jigme Sangpo who were placed in solitary confinement in May and reportedly ill-treated.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 17/34/98
16 October 1998
Further information on UA 210/98 (ASA 17/25/98, 24 July 1998) - Torture and
ill-treatment / Fear for safety
Ngawang Sungrab, aged 26, monk from Drepung monastery
Gyaltsen Choephel, aged 33, layman from Lhasa
Ngawang Sangdrol (f), aged 24, nun from Garu nunnery
Ngawang Choezom (f), aged 26, nun from Chubsang nunnery
Ngawang Tenzin (f), aged 30, nun from Gyadrag nunnery
Tanak Jigme Sangpo, aged 70, teacher
New names Choekyi Wangmo, aged 24, nun from Shar Bumpa nunnery
Tashi Lhamo, aged 24, nun from Nyemo county
Dekyi Yangzom, aged 21, nun from Nyemo county
Khedron Yonten, age not known, nun from Nyemo county
Ngawang Choekyi, aged 31, nun from Toelun Nyen nunnery
Four, possibly five, nuns reportedly died in Drapchi prison on 7 June 1998
after being placed in solitary confinement in May. This heightens fears for
the safety of prisoners who remain in solitary confinement following the violent
suppression of demonstrations inside Tibet’s Drapchi prison on 1 and 4 May.
The authorities’ official explanation for the nuns’ deaths is that they
committed suicide. They provided no further explanation, however, of how the
nuns all died in similar circumstances on the same day, when they were being
held in solitary confinement and had no way of communicating with each other.
Choekyi Wangmo is reported to have hanged herself. A mark was reportedly found
on her neck. She was serving a five-year sentence for peaceful pro-independence
activities and was almost due for release.
Officials said Tashi Lhamo, Dekyi Yangzom and Khedron Yonten all suffocated
themselves by stuffing scarves into their mouths. The nuns’ bodies were
reportedly bloated but had no visible external injuries.
The death of the fifth nun, Ngawang Choekyi, remains unconfirmed. She was serving
a 13-year sentence. She was originally detained for participating in a peaceful
pro-independence demonstration but her sentence was later increased after she
and 13 other nuns composed and recorded pro-independence songs in prison.
There has been no further news about Ngawang Sungrab, Gyaltsen Choephel, Ngawang
Sangdrol, Ngawang Choezom, Ngawang Tenzin or Tanak Jigme Sangpo, who were placed
in solitary confinement in May and reportedly ill-treated. They are thought
to remain in solitary confinement.
Information regarding the incidents at Drapchi of 1 and 4 May and the subsequent
suppression and deaths of prisoners remains difficult to confirm. There has
been no official public confirmation from the Chinese authorities of the events
in Drapchi in May. The European Union, which had a human rights delegation
visiting Drapchi prison on 4 May, has however received a preliminary response
to their enquiries from the Chinese authorities, who admit that minor
disturbances occurred in the prison on 1 and 4 May.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in English, Chinese, Tibetan or in your own language:
- urging the Chinese authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation
into the events of 1 and 4 May 1998 in Drapchi prison and to make their findings
- urging a full and impartial investigation into the reports of the deaths
in custody of five nuns held in solitary confinement since May;
- urging the immediate release of all prisoners from solitary confinement;
- expressing serious concern at reports that prisoners in Drapchi prison,
including Ngawang Sungrab and Gyaltsen Choephel, have been severely beaten,
and seeking assurance that no prisoners will be ill-treated and that all
prisoners will receive all necessary medical treatment;
- expressing serious concern at reports that other prisoners, including Ngawang
Sangdrol, Ngawang Choezom and Ngawang Tenzin, continue to be held in solitary
confinement and have been subjected to harsh interrogation and ill-treatment;
- urging the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience;
- reminding the Chinese authorities of the principles enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, notably Article 5: "No one shall be subjected
to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".
President of the People s Republic of China
JIANG Zemin Guojia Zhuxi, Beijingshi, People’s Republic of China
Telegram: President Jiang Zemin, Beijing, China
Salutation: Your Excellency
Chairman of the Xizang Autonomous Regional People's Government
Legchog Zhuren, Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu, 1 Kang'angdonglu
Lasashi 850000, Xizang Zizhiqu, People's Republic of China
Telexes: 68014 FAOLT CN or 68007 PGVMT CN
Salutation: Dear Chairman
Telegram: Chairman, Regional People's Government, Lasa, Xizang Autonomous
Region, China
Salutation: Dear Chairman
Prison Governor, Drapchi Prison/Tibet Autonomous Regional Prison No.1
Xizang Zizhiqu Di Yi Jianyu
Lasashi 850003
Xizang Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China
and to diplomatic representatives of People’s Republic of China accredited
to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 27 November 1998.
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Visit the Amnesty International UDHR campaign website on http://www.amnesty.excite.com

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