By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
AMCHOK BORA, China – The Chinese government has detained seven Tibetan high school students on suspicion of writing pro-Tibetan independence slogans on the walls of the Amchok Bora village police station and other buildings. The slogans called for the return of the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet.
Relatives that had last seen one of the teenagers reported he was beaten and was bleeding. The teenagers were first held in a police station in Amchok Bora, and were allowed to see their families. However, since then, the students have been moved to the town of Xiahe (Labrang). Since the move, officials in Xiahe have refused to reveal the students’ location, requests from their families to visit, or even to confirm that they are in custody. The state-controlled news media have also been silent on the case.
The names of five of the teenagers are Lhamo Tseten, age 15; Chopa Kyab, age 14; Drolma Kyab, age 14; Tsekhu, age 14; and a second Lhamo Tseten, age 15. The identity of two teenagers is unknown. The identity of the beaten teenager is also unknown. The students attend school in Xiahe (Labrang) county, Gannan prefecture in Gansa province. The Gannan is one of China’s official “Tibetan autonomous” areas.
In 1950 China took control of the Himalayan region in China. In 1959 the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled to India during a failed revolt against the Chinese government. Since then, China has refused to allow the Dalai Lama to return. He is revered as Tibetan Buddhism’s highest spiritual authority.
The arrest of the teenagers has sparked criticism by the New York group, Human Rights Watch. Brad Adam, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said “Arresting teenagers for a political crime shows just how little has changed inTibet. Beating up a child for a political crime shows just how far hina has to go before it creates the ‘harmonious society’ China’s leaders talk so much about.”
Tension between Chinese officials and Tibet residents has grown more strained as the two parties continue to disagree over issues from cultural and religious policies, forced resettlement of Tibetan herders, environmental degradation, replacement of Tibetan cadres with ethnic Chinese ones, and increased migration of ethnic Chinese settlers to traditionally Tibetan regions.
China is a State Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN of Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for children’s right to freedom of expression and demands that no child should be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or detained unlawfully or arbitrarily. If children are legally should be held as only a matter of last resort and for the shortest period of time. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also insists that while in detention, children should have the right to contact their families and have legal assistance.
For more information, please see:
BBS News – Teenage Students Held Incommunicado for Graffiti – 23 September 2007
The NY Times –Tibet: Teenagers Held for Pro-Independence Slogans – 26 September 2007
Taipei Times (AFP) – Seven High School Boys Detained for Pro-Tibet Slogans – 22 September 2007
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Convention on the Rights of the Child
Voice of America – Human Rights Watch Urges China to Release Tibetan Students – 20 September 2007