return to homepage SAMSARA:  A Tibetan Human Rights Archive
navigational imagemap


This is a personal eyewitness account of the Chinese use of torture in Tibet as told by a person who was "intimately connected with the Chinese machineries which inflicted them."

"During the years of 1962 to 1967, the Chinese authorities carried out a major campaign of education for political orientation of the broad masses. During this campaign, many innocent Tibetans were branded as criminals and subjected to brutal persecusions. I am going to present here an enumerative account of such persecutions insofar as what I actually saw — and which were widely experienced — and heard in the nomadic region of Rebghong as a case example.

"The targets of the campaign were those who manifested steadfast adherence to religious belief, those who expressed concern and respect for human rights, and learned scholars who had, before Chinese occupation of Tibet, belonged to rich families. There were, at least, 33 different types and methods of dealing with, and inflicting tortures on such criminals. These I enumerate hereunder.

  1. Literally wrapping the prisoner in chain and subjecting him to indiscriminate beatings with whatever came in hand, irrespective of whichever part of the body they fell upon. Invariably the prisoner used to fall to the ground after each successive barrage of such beatings. And while detained in prison, which were always dark and solitary, they were fed but very sparsely.

  2. Tying up the prisoner with rope and parading him before an enforced gathering of members of the pugblic, and thereby, by requiring them to chide, condemn and abuse him, trying to create disaffection amongst Tibetans.

  3. Suspending the prisoner upside-down in the air by his legs with his hands tied behind him.

  4. Beating the prisoner so thoroughly and indiscriminately from head to toe that it becomes impossible thereafter to make out the proper contours of the victim's body.

  5. To call a mod gathering of communist loving Tibetans in the night and get them to pounce upon the prisoner so as to brutally pull out all his hair from his head.

  6. To call a gathering of young people — of so called People's Army — and getthem to lash [flog ] the prisoner.

  7. To collect a gathering of manifestly poor Tibetans and get them to slap the prisoner one by one.

  8. Hitting the joints of the ankles is especially targetted.

  9. To call a gathering of young militiamen, consisting of intellectually dull youths, and get them to pull the prisoner apart by his four limbs from four different directions.

  10. Burying both of the prisoner's legs in the ground and then forcibly trying to pull him out.

  11. Making the prisoner to stand up with his hands stretched out over a prolonged period of time.

  12. Making the prisoner to bend down with his arms stretched backwards and to remain in that position over a long period of time.

  13. Making the prisoner to stand on a boulder in the middle of a river and, in that position, to maintain undiverted attention to his perennial flow [sic? ]

  14. Burying the prisoner up o the level of his navel in the ground, covering down the upper part of his body from head downwards with wet animal skin which is rendered airtight by being pressed to the ground on all side with stones, and then keeping the spot under guard by militiamen.

  15. Blindfolding the prisoner and setting him aflame.

  16. Suffocating the prisoner to death by stifling his breath.

  17. Oiling the hairs in the region about the mouth and putting them [to the  ] torch.

  18. Inclining the prisoner's head in a downward slanting position with his legs stretched apart in between which another person is made to straddle and, thus, to beat and press him down at the same time. One Choedo died as a direct result of it.

  19. Making the prisoner to sit on a mattress [a Bhelden, a white woolen mattress widely used in Tibet ] spread on the ground and forcing him to continuously gulp down a dilute kind of black tea without any permission to allow him to relieve himself of the ever accumulating fluidity in his stomach and the stress on his kidneys. Because of this, today Lobsang Dhargyal, Johe, Lhasung, Wangdak and Chu-ghe, who had all been subjected to this ill-treatment, are crippled but worse, Choedo, Trinley, Namkha Kyab, Gedun, the old father of Choekyong, and Choelo's father all died in result thereof.

  20. Making a gathering of people to beat drums and strike cymbals as the prisoner is tied up to the back of a wild yak which then bolts with a start, dragging the prisoner along its way.

  21. Perforating the prisoner's skin with needle pricks.

  22. Exposing the prisoner to the freezing winter cold. One Wangchen, who had been subjected to it, is now physically unfit.

  23. Making the prisoner to squat naked on the ground amidst heavy snowfall.

  24. Preventing the prisoner from getting any sleep over a number of days.

  25. Making the prisoner to kneel down over an assortment of broken pieces of bones.

  26. Literally called 'Tying-up-with-a-stick', or Yug-pe Kyig-pa  in the native tongue, it is a most brutal method which defies easy description. It involves the use of a cane of stick which is kept on the back of the prisoner's neck along his shoulders, tying up both of his hands along the two ends of it, and then slinging both of his legs as well across it, each on the opposite sides and thus tying them up and then taunting and torturing him. All this was frequently resorted to before a large gathering of people at a place called Mheshul.

  27. Making the prisoner to stand up outside all day long during the first three months of the year [the coldest ].

  28. When it is very hot, making the prisoner to stand in the sun with his head covered with furred animal skin.

  29. Making the prisoner to sit on a horseback which is then given a wild chase.

  30. Debarring the prisoner from any cloth [i.e. — permanent forced nudity ]. One Shilo Kyi, a female, was subjected to it.

  31. To make a gathering of people to continuously hit the prisoner towards each other and thus pass him amongst them.

  32. To penetrate both the nostrils of the prisoner with fingers which are driven right through to reach the depth of the cheeks inside the mouth which at once strikes him to the ground.

  33. Making the prisoner to ride a Kyang without any clothes on when it is extremely cold.

Copyright 1997 Spencer Sundell

personal testimony | reports by the tibetan govt-in-exile | tibetan women | independent reports
news library | image gallery | about tibet | additional resources | reading list | contact