{This post is long, but I did not want to hide it away behind a “read the rest of this…” link. It’s important that information like this is disseminated as far and wide as possible…}

A rare testimony in detail of a Tibetan youth who was arrested in the aftermath of Lhasa unrest in March‭ ‬2008‭ ‬is obtained by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy‭ (‬TCHRD‭)‬.‭ ‬The interviewee describes the use of extreme torture in prison,‭ ‬cries of pain in the corridors of the prison,‭ ‬harrowing stories that he constantly hears,‭ ‬unwavering hope of support from the outside world,‭ ‬and perception of life post imprisonment.‭ ‬The interview which is reproduced below has been dictated to a third party and edited by TCHRD in order to protect the identity of the youth.‭ ‬While (*) denotes information withheld, further details,‭ ‬comments or explanations are provided in square brackets.


“On‭ (*) ‬March,‭ around‭ ‬one‭ ‬hundred soldiers entered my house,‭ ‬broke down five doors,‭ ‬checked everything and threw it all on the floor and hit everyone present there.‭ ‬It was like a robbery or burglary.‭ ‬There were a lot of firearms and they were very rough with us.‭ ‬I was arrested.‭ ‬They took me with them,‭ ‬with my thumbs tied behind my back,‭ ‬very tightly,‭ ‬resulting in the whole area being numb for the last two or three months‭ [‬all of his left thumb‭]‬.‭ ‬They treated us very harshly.‭ ‬Talking to each other,‭ ‬they said,‭ “‬This is our chance‭”‬,‭ ‬and they beat us.‭ ‬At first I thought that they were going to kill me,‭ ‬they hit my head a lot,‭ ‬and skull can be broken easily.‭ ‬It is not like the rest of the body.‭ ‬They took me to prison.‭ ‬For four days they didn’t ask me anything,‭ ‬they just threw me in.‭ ‬They gave us half a steamed bun a day.‭ ‬That’s very small.‭ ‬Everyone were very thirsty and a lot of people drank their urine‭ [‬the detainees were not provided with water‭]‬.‭ ‬We had no clothes,‭ ‬no blankets,‭ ‬nothing to lie down on,‭ ‬nothing‭ [‬just cement floors]‬ and it was very cold.‭ ‬For four days nobody spoke to us,‭ ‬they just left us there.”

“During the day it’s quiet,‭ ‬there’s nothing in Lhasa during the day.‭ ‬Between‭ ‬11:00‭ ‬at night and‭ ‬5-6:00‭ [‬in the morning‭] ‬they arrest thousands of people. In that room,‭ ‬after four or five days,‭ ‬they gave us two steamed buns with hot water.‭ ‬We were‭ ‬(*) ‬people in that room.‭ ‬Very bad.‭ ‬We heard a lot of things.‭ ‬Many people had their arms or legs broken or gunshot wounds but they weren’t taken to hospital.‭ ‬They were there with us.‭ ‬It was really terrible.‭ ‬I can’t believe that we are in the‭ ‬21st century.‭ ‬For instance,‭ ‬one boy who was shot four times,‭ ‬one from here to there‭ [‬the bullet entered from the left side of his back and exited from the left side of his chest,‭ ‬near his heart‭]‬,‭ ‬one from here to here‭ [‬from inner left elbow to inner left wrist‭]‬,‭ ‬and one here‭ [‬a horizontal wound on his upper right arm‭]‬.‭ ‬Some people had their ribs broken.‭ ‬One man was punched in his‭ [‬right‭] ‬eye,‭ ‬and it was all swollen and black and blue,‭ ‬very bad.‭ ‬People had their teeth broken,‭ ‬these are just examples.‭ ‬A lot of terrible things were done.”

“One of the problems is that people have no food,‭ ‬they are very hungry,‭ ‬they are just falling over.‭ ‬One boy fell into the toilet,‭ ‬all in the same room,‭ ‬and he was cut right across his face‭ [‬under his chin along the jaw‭]‬.‭ ‬For instance,‭ ‬a lot of people have psychological problems,‭ ‬and they’re the first to collapse.‭ ‬A boy from Tse-Tang ,‭ ‬he has a problem of the‭ “‬heart‭”‬,‭ ‬a psychological problem,‭ ‬and he was very thin.‭ ‬At first he fell two or three times every day but they didn’t care.”

“The worst thing‭ – ‬this is Gondzhe‭ [‬the name of the prison‭]‬,‭ ‬in Lhasa there are nineteen prisons,‭ ‬the biggest is Drapchi and there is one in Chushul‭ [‬Ch:‭ ‬Qushu County‭]‬,‭ ‬they are empty,‭ ‬they showed the visitors that nobody is in prison,‭ ‬it’s just for show.‭ ‬Usually there is no prison at the train station,‭ ‬but they rented a very big building and they put people there and in Du-Long‭ [‬Toelung Dechen County‭] ‬and at the train station,‭ ‬and in Gondzhe‭; ‬they put people in these three places.‭ ‬At night they bring a big bus,‭ ‬and many soldiers come,‭ ‬and one hundred to one hundred and fifteen go to Du-Long.‭ ‬They say it’s time to go home,‭ “‬You haven’t done anything wrong,‭ ‬you’re going home,‭” ‬but they put them in a huge bus to Du-Long or to the train station.‭ ‬They’ve mixed up the people and transferred people from here to there‭ [‬from prison to prison‭]‬.‭ ‬I didn’t see this myself,‭ ‬but friends told me what they saw at Du-Long.‭ ‬Some monks had sacks put over their heads and they were taken away and didn’t come back,‭ ‬so maybe they were killed.”

“I met an old man,‭ ‬65‭ ‬years old,‭ ‬who had two ribs broken and he was all bent over‭ [‬demonstrates a bent man‭]‬,‭ ‬and he couldn’t stand up straight,‭ ‬he was dying,‭ ‬so the police took him to People’s Hospital,‭ ‬where one or two people die every day‭ [‬due to police violence‭]‬.‭ ‬The people who are taken to hospital are usually people who have been shot or beaten,‭ ‬and they usually die there.‭ ‬A brother and sister from (*‭)‬,‭ ‬the brother was younger,‭ ‬were sleeping in the same room and all of a sudden soldiers came and threw them out of the window from a high floor to the ground,‭ ‬the brother was killed on the spot.‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬right outside the building.‭ ‬The sister didn’t die,‭ ‬but she can’t lie down,‭ ‬she has to remain in a sitting position all the time.‭ ‬They took the body away and told her that she is forbidden to tell anyone.‭ ‬(*).These are just a few examples.‭ ‬There are many problems like this.”

“Many questions were asked of people who were not guilty of anything.‭ ‬They are just‭ [‬guilty of being] Tibetans.‭ ‬There are many counties in Tibet,‭ ‬they call the police from each county,‭ ‬and the people from the counties aren’t in Lhasa so they show them that the prisons are empty,‭ ‬but they were taken to all kinds of places,‭ ‬because in Lhasa there are so many people watching so they keep everyone away.‭ ‬Now the monks from‭ (*)monastery‬,‭ ‬friends and relatives,‭ ‬we don’t know where they are.”

“You know that they say that there are no soldiers in Lhasa,‭ ‬but they’re in civilian dress and they check identity papers.”

“I want to talk and that people should know what’s happening in Tibet.‭ ‬If they beat me that’s okay‭ [‬he means that his family may be hurt as well‭]‬,‭ ‬I didn’t do anything bad in Lhasa.‭ ”

“Many young people in Lhasa,‭ ‬for example,‭ ‬if we were together on the‭ ‬14th‭ [‬of March‭]‬,‭ ‬I was beaten,‭ ‬so I was‭ “‬sold‭” ‬and then you’re with me‭ [‬with the prison warden doing the beating‭]‬.‭ ‬But I have friends in‭ (*) monastery,‭ ‬I would rather die than give them away.‭ ‬I saw a lot of things that they did in prison.‭ ‬A guy from Dhadezhe [possibly Dartsedo County]‭ ‬had a new jacket,‭ ‬so they beat him and he died,‭ ‬because of the jacket,‭ ‬because it was very new,‭ ‬so they said he stole it,‭ ‬so because of his new coat he was killed.”

“There are a lot of high school students from Sauko‭ .‭ ‬A seventeen-year-old who had not participated in the events of the‭ ‬14th‭ [‬of March‭]‬,‭ ‬all his clothes were taken away,‭ ‬they tied his hands and they pushed a wagon at him until he fell,‭ ‬there are all kinds of torture methods.‭ ‬This kid was very young and he didn’t even do anything.‭ ‬Afterwards he said that he’d done all kinds of things,‭ ‬that happens to a lot of people,‭ ‬they pressure people to admit things they never did. I didn’t see the dead people,‭ ‬but in prison people called out to the police or soldiers,‭ “‬Someone’s dead‭!”‬,‭ ‬every day people shout that.‭ ‬At Gondzhe there are nine buildings,‭ ‬and each building has eleven rooms and in each room there are twenty or thirty people.‭ ‬And one day,‭ ‬a Chinese man was asked some questions,‭ ‬someone called and asked how many people had been arrested and he said less than ten thousand,‭ ‬and that doesn’t include Drepung,‭ ‬Sera,‭ ‬Ramoche,‭ ‬Jokhang.‭ ‬After they let us out they arrested the monks.‭ ‬When I got out‭ [‬of prison‭]‬ I heard that many were arrested at Drepung Monastery.‭ ‬I was released on‭ (*) ‬April‭ ‬.”

“I met a monk from Ramoche before I was released.‭ ‬I am very worried about the monks.‭ ‬The soldiers regard the monks as something very different,‭ ‬because a monk from Dezhe‬ [possibly Derge County],‭ ‬his finger was bent over‭ [‬shows a completely bent finger‭] ‬and he’d been blinded in one eye,‭ ‬he couldn’t see out of it at all,‭ ‬he was beaten more than us but luckily‭ … ‬Really I can’t understand why they do terrible things to monks,‭ ‬very,‭ ‬very painful.”

“I met a boy from (*) [County] in the same prison,‭ ‬and he had two friends in Lhasa who lived near Ramoche and they were shot,‭ ‬and his two friends,‭ ‬one,‭ ‬there’s a hospital near Anichenko‭ ,‭ ‬he was taken to a nunnery and he died there,‭ ‬21‭ ‬years old,‭ ‬I’ve forgotten his name‭; ‬the other was‭ ‬20‭ ‬years old,‭ ‬he was shot and he’s in hospital,‭ ‬maybe he’ll die too.‭ ‬He was shot on Gangsu Street.”

“A boy named (*),‭ ‬aged‭ ‬(*),‭ ‬from Anishim‭ ‬ near Lhasa,‭ ‬is in prison,‭ ‬and two of his friends were shot to death.‭ ‬He and his‭ ‬18‭ ‬year-old brother were from Phenpo.‭ ‬In the prison at Gondzhe there are a lot of people from Phenpo.”

“During the day it’s very quiet,‭ ‬everything happens at night,‭ ‬everything’s very secret.‭ ‬There is no telephone contact with Drepung,‭ ‬Sera or the train station.‭ ‬Sometimes we can get in touch with the train station,‭ ‬but not most of the time,‭ ‬so they can’t be reached.”

“I have a relative in India,‭ ‬I wrote just what I heard and saw to send over the internet.‭ ‬I wrote a little and I saved it on Word,‭ ‬and all of a sudden it disappeared,‭ ‬so I was very frightened.‭ ‬So I haven’t checked my e-mail,‭ ‬I have a lot of friends abroad and they send many e-mails but I haven’t opened them.(*).”

“Outwardly they show people that everything is very nice but inside it’s really terrible.‭ ‬People did really bad things and forced us to make this problem.‭ ‬At Ramoche they didn’t do anything,‭ ‬but thousands of soldiers surrounded the monastery and all the temples,‭ ‬and many vehicles closed off the gates like a prison.‭ ‬We can’t be tolerant anymore,‭ ‬we should be tolerant but we can’t be tolerant anymore.‭ ‬There are no human rights and cultural genocide is the reality,‭ ‬that’s the big part,‭ ‬but the small part we see,‭ ‬for instance in Lhasa,‭ ‬on a main street like Beijing Lu‭ [‬Lu means street in Chinese‭]‬,‭ ‬or Gengshu Lu,‭ ‬how many Tibetans have businesses on streets like those‭? ‬This is Lhasa,‭ ‬Tibet,‭ ‬not China.‭ ‬Don’t the Tibetans have to live‭? ‬The Chinese are more talented because they study in big cities.‭ ‬They have experience or enough money to do business,‭ ‬but Tibetans come from villages,‭ ‬they are farmers or nomads,‭ ‬they don’t have money,‭ ‬so how can they do business in Lhasa‭? ‬What is more necessary‭? ‬That the local people do business in Lhasa or the Chinese‭? ‬Why don’t the Chinese police allow Tibetans to do business on one side of the street and the Chinese on the other side‭ – ‬so things will be more balanced‭? ‬There are many Tibetans who are very talented and intelligent,‭ ‬but they don’t have enough money to make it.‭ ‬They have money because they live in Beijing or Shanghai.‭ ‬That’s the small part.‭ ”

“I see a lot of things,‭ ‬I’m okay,‭ ‬I can do many things.‭ ‬But I see many Tibetans,‭ ‬the way they live,‭ ‬and the way the Chinese live,‭ ‬and this is Tibet.‭ ‬The local people shouldn’t be superior to the Chinese,‭ ‬but there should be balance.‭ ‬There are some very old Tibetans who have pensions from the government,‭ ‬you can see them on TV.‭ ‬They said bad things to the Tibetans.‭ ‬I watch them and I just laugh.‭ ‬There are many westerners who are fighting for Tibetan civil rights.‭ ‬I’m very happy that these people are doing this.‭ ‬I want to study more at home every day but I can’t.‭ ‬When I watch TV,‭ ‬everything is lies,‭ ‬so it pains my heart‭ [‬points to his heart‭] ‬and it’s very bad.‭ ‬So I walk in the streets and I see the soldiers asking me for my identity papers,‭ ‬they look at my card and ask me,‭ “‬When were you born‭?” ‬and if there’s the smallest mistake you’re finished.‭ ‬They check the picture and your face,‭ ‬but a Chinese person can pass right by‭ [‬without identity papers‭]‬,‭ ‬that’s okay.”

‎(*). “Before this was the best place, but now it’s like a prison, it’s not like Lhasa. When I was in prison,‭ ‬a Tibetan policeman told me‭ “‬Kneel down here‭!”‬,‭ ‬I had my thumbs tied behind my back.‭ ‬He sat down‭ [‬on a chair in front of me‭]‬,‭ ‬put his foot on my head and kicked my forehead with his foot,‭ ‬pushed my head back and slapped my face over and over again,‭ ‬and I saw this man and I was very sad.‭ ‬He’s Tibetan and now I see him every day,‭ ‬I’ve seen him many times‭ [‬since then‭]‬.‭ ‬‬A lot of Chinese and Tibetans jumped on my back and kicked me and beat me over the head,‭ ‬they twisted my head back so I couldn’t see their faces,‭ ‬but to show me your face and to do those bad things‭ – ‬that’s the worst thing.”

“This is just an experience,‭ ‬I could learn a lot from it.‭ ‬In prison sometimes I dreamed about food and I remembered the food we cook at home,‭ ‬my mother and my sister’s cooking and I could smell it,‭ ‬and then I really appreciated how tasty the food is at home.‭ ‬I usually eat everything and then I say‭ “‬That wasn’t so good,‭” ‬and now I’ve learnt that it’s very,‭ ‬very good.‭ ‬These are the worst things that I’ve ever seen in my life,‭ ‬but you learn how to be a good person.‭ ‬Sometimes,‭ ‬when my (*)’s children are here,‭ ‬and they don’t do their schoolwork,‭ ‬I yell at them and hit them.‭ ‬But now if I yell at them it pains me sometimes.‭ ‬I’ve learned a lot.”

“I’m worried about the small Tibetan population.‭ ‬Many people are dying today or being crippled with broken arms and legs,‭ ‬and that’s very bad.‭ ‬And people are in prison,‭ ‬like me,‭ ‬and I think about the people in prison all the time.‭ ‬I think about the terrible state they are in.‭ ‬Young people,‭ ‬16‭ ‬or‭ ‬17‭ ‬years old,‭ ‬crying all the time‭ – ‬it makes me really sad.‭ ‬I saw people with broken limbs and people who’d been shot‭ – ‬seeing their pale faces is very,‭ ‬very sad.”

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