ISSUED BY: Human Rights Desk, Department of Information and International Relations, Tibetan Government-in-Exile (Dharamsala, India)

Survival Under Surveillance

A Brief Overview of the Human Rights Situation in Tibet

[released February 29, 1996]



A. Population Transfer: The Final Solution ?
1. An Overview of Chinese Population Transfer in Tibet

B. The Right to Freedom of Religion
1. China Politicises the Panchen Lama Selection Process
2. The Arrests of Monks and Nuns in 1994 and 1995 for Peacefully Exercising their Right to Freedom of Expression
3. Monasteries and Nunneries in Tibet Stormed, Nuns and Monks Expelled and Work Teams Sent in to "Re-educate"
4. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance Visits Tibet in 1994

C. The Right to Freedom of Expression and Information
1. Prisoners of Conscience, Peaceful Demonstrations and Defiance Against Chinese Occupation
2. The Right to Receive and Impart Information Denied

D. The Right to be Free from Torture
1. Torture and Ill-Treatment of Tibetan Political Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience
2. Deaths in Custody and After Release of Tibetan Prisoners of Conscience

E. The Illegal Deportation of Tibetan Refugees from Nepal

F. The Right to Education in Tibet

G. The Rights of Children in Tibet

H. The Rights of Tibetan Women
1. Chinese Birth Control Discriminates Against Tibetan Women
2. Tibetan Women Harassed at the Beijing Conference
3. Tibetan Nun Prisoner of Conscience Wins Reebok Human Rights Award


In 1995, reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions more than doubled: the 1994 figure of 110 reported known arrests escalated in 1995 to around 230. The majority were monks and nuns. A sharp increase in demonstrations was also recorded in 1995 — 39 reported in 1995 versus 19 reported in 1994. The three main grievances were: China's occupation of Tibet; Chinese population transfer and China's interference in the Panchen Lama reincarnation selection process.

Chinese population transfer continued into Tibet and the policy was officially outlined at the Third Work Forum on Tibet held in Beijing in July 1994. The increase in Chinese settlement became evident throughout 1995 as reports were received of Chinese army recruits, administrators, students, miners and laborers moving to Tibet for employment after being granted economic incentives by the Chinese government or encouraged by international development projects controlled by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government stepped up violations of the right to religious freedom. In late 1994 CCP (Communist Party of China) orders banned the display of photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This policy shift challenges the Dalai Lama's religious role. The motivations were revealed at a CCP meeting in 1994 which stated that the struggle with the " Dalai clique" (meaning His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his supporters and "western hostile forces") was not about religion but about "safeguarding the motherland and opposing splittism". In 1994 and 1995 raids on monasteries and nunneries were reported resulting in arrests, detentions and expulsions. "Work teams" were installed to "re-educate" the monks and nuns.

From May 1995 the Chinese stepped up their personal attacks on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, after he announced a six year old boy as the Panchen Lama reincarnation, Tibet's second highest spiritual leader. The Chinese government declared the choice invalid and, as a countermove, enthroned their choice of Panchen Lama in December 1995. Gendun Choekyi Nyima "disappeared" shortly after His Holiness the Dalai Lama proclaimed him Panchen Lama and to date his whereabouts are unknown. The child is now Tibet's youngest political prisoner at six years old.

The Chinese authorities are also punishing any Tibetans who dare to express their support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Chadrel Rinpoche, former head of China's Panchen Lama Search Committee, who has been detained since May 1995, accused of "colluding" with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. To date a list of 50 known arrests have been recorded in connection with the Panchen Lama selection process. Work teams have been sent into Tashilhunpo monastery, seat of the Panchen Lama, which was raided by armed police on the night of July 12, 1995 after monks protested against Chinese interference in the Panchen Lama issue. 32 monks were arrested on the night of the raid and it is reported that they were tortured and beaten during interrogation sessions.

Frequent reports of deaths and ill-treatment of prisoners of conscience continued to be received throughout 1994 and 1995. Six detailed reports were received between 1994 and 1995 of Tibetan prisoners of conscience dying due to torture and medical neglect in prison. 1995 also saw the illegal deportation of 300 Tibetan refugees from Nepal between April and September 1995. 25 of these known cases involved Tibetan children.

Women in Tibet continued to be subjected to discriminatory birth control policies through heavy fines for having children above the quota allowed. Tibetan-related groups were also excluded from attending the Beijing Women's Conference with only nine Tibetan women with foreign passports being able to attend the NGO Forum. These exile delegates were harassed and constantly surveilled by Chinese security.

The rights specifically targeted in this overview are by no means a complete list of the rights being violated in Tibet. Other rights — such as the right to employment, housing and the right to an adequate standard of living, have not been dealt with. The statistics are also not an accurate representation of the true situation in Tibet due to reporting difficulties. The numbers of arrests, demonstrations and deaths in custody recorded therefore represent a minimum of known and reported cases.

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