17 augustus 2021

Uit getuigenverklaringen blijkt dat een Tibetaanse zakenman voor zijn vooronderzoek werd gemarteld

Een onlangs vrijgegeven getuigenis van een Tibetaanse zakenman en filantroop die in kritieke toestand verkeert na jaren van marteling en gevangenschap, documenteert het afschuwelijke misbruik dat hij in voorlopige hechtenis heeft moeten ondergaan.

Dorjee Tashi (多吉扎西), die beschouwd wordt als een van de rijkste mensen in Tibet, werd in 2010 tot levenslang veroordeeld in de nasleep van het harde optreden van de Chinese regering tegen de massale Tibetaanse protesten in het voorjaar van 2008. Dorjee zit momenteel in gevangenis nr. 1 van de Tibetaanse Autonome Regio (TAR), in de volksmond bekend als de Drapchi-gevangenis, waar Tibetaanse gevangenen tijdens hun opsluiting worden gemarteld. Zijn vrouw Sonam Choedon (索朗曲珍) mag hem sinds december 2019 niet meer zien.

Dorjee was een succesvol zakenman die eigenaar was van een luxe hotelketen en vastgoedbedrijven. In juli 2008 werd Dorjee gearresteerd. Hij werd tijdens zijn arrestatie door hatelijke en wraakzuchtige politieke en partijleiders neergezet als een “separatist”. Hoewel de politieke beschuldigingen later werden ingetrokken, werd hij op 17 mei 2010 door de Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court schuldig verklaard aan “fraude met leningen” en veroordeeld tot levenslange gevangenisstraf. De rechtbank bevestigde het vonnis op 26 juli 2010. Dorjee was toen 36 jaar oud.

Getuigenis van marteling

“Om het simpel te zeggen, zelfs als we je doden of invalide maken, zijn we niet aansprakelijk volgens de wet.”

International Campaign for Tibet heeft de getuigenis van Dorjee Tashi verkregen over de martelingen en mishandelingen die hij tijdens zijn voorlopige hechtenis heeft ondergaan. De getuigenis maakte deel uit van zijn verzoek om een nieuw proces in 2013-14.

De getuigenis heeft betrekking op vier maanden van zijn voorlopige hechtenis in de Tibetaanse hoofdstad Lhasa in 2008 – voordat hij werd overgebracht naar een detentiecentrum in het district Mainling (Chinees: Milin) in Nyingtri (Chinees: Linzhi). De getuigenis beschrijft martelpraktijken zoals slagen met elektrische knuppels, geboeid worden aan een ijzeren staaf en in de lucht worden gehangen, simulatie van verstikking, het gieten van hete chilivloeistof door neusgaten en slaaponthouding.

De getuigenis is opmerkelijk omdat de personen die rechtstreeks verantwoordelijk zijn voor de martelpraktijken worden aangewezen als ambtenaren die verbonden zijn aan het Ministerie van Openbare Veiligheid van de centrale regering, het Bureau voor Openbare Veiligheid van de Autonome Regio Tibet en het Bureau voor Openbare Veiligheid van het district Mainling in de toenmalige prefectuur Nyingtri. Het rapport stemt overeen met andere rapporten over het gebruik van marteling in Tibet en met bevindingen van onafhankelijke internationale mensenrechtendeskundigen.

Nadat de gevangenschap van Dorjee sinds 2010 jarenlang op een laag pitje stond, is nu aan het licht gekomen dat Dorjee Tashi standvastig elke politieke betrokkenheid heeft ontkend, ondanks de martelingen waarmee hij tijdens de voorverhoren te maken kreeg.

Het leven en werk van Dorjee Tashi
Dorjee, geboren op 25 oktober 1973 en ooit door de Chinese regering erkend als een van de “tien opmerkelijke jongeren in Tibet”, werd in 2003 lid van de Communistische Partij van China. Zijn filantropisch werk werd door de regering van de Tibetaanse Autonome Regio geprezen als een uitstekende bijdrage aan de armoedebestrijding en de economische ontwikkeling in Tibet.

Zijn bedrijf Tibet Manasarovar Group (Chinees: Xīzàng shén hú jítuán) bezat een keten van luxehotels in Tibet, waaronder het beroemde Yak Hotel in Lhasa. Naast de “Shigatse Qinsangyuan Ecological Farming Comprehensive Development Company,” was hij ook eigenaar van de “Shigatse Oasis Real Estate Development Company” en de “Manasarovar Real Estate Development Company.

Voor zijn ondernemingen en filantropie ontving hij meerdere onderscheidingen van de CCP en de regering van de TAR, de regering van de Gannan (Tibetaans: Kanlho) Prefectuur in Gansu en de Shigatse Communistische Jeugdliga. Hij ontving de “Tibet May Fourth Youth Medal” en werd ook benoemd tot rector van de Jianhua Vocational High School in Nanchong City in Sichuan.

Zijn inzet voor het maatschappelijk welzijn, zoals het helpen en geven van donaties aan de weduwen en bejaarden en de kinderen van arme arbeiders in de Tsemonling kleuterschool in Lhasa, en het mobiliseren van fondsen en vrijwilligers tijdens aardbevingen en overstromingen in Shigatse, leverden hem veel lofbetuigingen op.

Arrestatie
Kort na de massale protesten in maart 2008 tegen China’s heerschappij in Tibet, bestempelden functionarissen de protesten als het gevolg van buitenlandse inmenging. Dorjee werd gearresteerd omdat hij heimelijke steun zou hebben verleend aan Tibetaanse demonstranten en banden zou hebben gehad met de Tibetaanse gemeenschap in ballingschap. Het Chinese Ministerie van Openbare Veiligheid nam een ongebruikelijk directe houding aan bij het onderzoeken van Dorjee’s vermeende politieke loyaliteit en martelde hem om mogelijke buitenlandse connecties te onthullen.

De politieke beschuldigingen tegen Dorjee werden later ingetrokken. Maar Dorjee werd vervolgens wel aangeklaagd wegens “fraude met leningen”. Dorjee werd vervolgens door het Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court veroordeeld tot levenslange gevangenisstraf met een ontzegging van politieke rechten.

Quote International Campaign for Tibet

International Campaign for Tibet roept op tot de onmiddellijke vrijlating van Dorjee Tashi en een onafhankelijk en onpartijdig onderzoek naar de berichten over zijn marteling en mishandeling. Degenen die verantwoordelijk zijn voor daden die een vorm van marteling zijn, moeten ter verantwoording worden geroepen en voor het gerecht worden gebracht om een einde te maken aan de cultuur van straffeloosheid die de Chinese Communistische Partij in Tibet heerst. Daarnaast moet Dorjee Tashi onmiddellijk medische verzorging krijgen, en zijn vrouw en andere familieleden, alsmede zijn advocaat, moeten toegang tot hem krijgen.

“Wij roepen de internationale gemeenschap, regeringen en mensenrechtenexperts van de Verenigde Naties op om de zaak van Dorjee Tashi dringend aan te kaarten bij de regering van China. Zijn leven is in gevaar terwijl hij een straf uitzit die is uitgesproken in een oneerlijk proces met geloofwaardige berichten over marteling en mishandeling. Dorjee Tashi is het slachtoffer van de wetteloosheid in Tibet, waar alleen al het feit dat je je voor een Tibetaan uitspreekt voldoende is om te worden vervolgd. Dat is onaanvaardbaar.”

Juridisch deskundig advies wijst op onrechtvaardigheid en discriminatie
Het vonnis tegen Dorjee Tashi was onrechtvaardig, en zijn proces werd rechtstreeks politiek gemanipuleerd door het ministerie van Openbare Veiligheid. Een commissie van zes vooraanstaande Chinese juridische experts concludeerde in hun deskundigenadvies in oktober 2018 dat Dorjee ten onrechte werd veroordeeld voor “leenfraude”, terwijl het ook had kunnen gaan om “kapitaalverduistering”, een minder zwaar vergrijp. In een kopie van het advies gepubliceerd op de Rights Defender (维权网) blog, concludeerde de deskundigencommissie van het in Beijing gevestigde Zheng Xin Law Firm dat levenslange gevangenisstraf voor het verduisteren van 1,5 miljoen yuan fondsen niet rechtvaardig was. De deskundigen adviseerden de straf om te zetten in een gevangenisstraf voor bepaalde tijd.

De deskundigengroep vond ook dat de levenslange gevangenisstraf van Dorjee discriminerend was. Zo werden er in 2010 ook Chinese zakenlieden voor “fraude met leningen” veroordeeld. Zij kregen echter een gevangenisstraf tot 15 jaar voor leningen van 53 miljoen yuan. Dat terwijl Dorjee’s kapitaalverduistering ging om een beduidend lager bedrag van 1,5 miljoen yuan. De deskundigen wezen er ook op dat de voorzittende rechter van het TAR Hoger Volksgerechtshof, Yang Tingyi (杨庭轶, en waarnemend rechter Li Ruihong (李瑞红) beide zaken behandelden op basis van dezelfde aanklacht (fraude met leningen) maar met verschillende vonnissen kwamen. De Chinese zakenlieden, die erin slaagden hun straffen te verminderen, zijn nu vrij, terwijl Dorjee nog steeds in de gevangenis zit omdat zijn beroep is afgewezen en mensenrechtenadvocaten zijn zaak niet mogen behandelen.

Mensen die op de hoogte zijn van Dorjee’s financiën wijzen erop dat “fraude met leningen” slechts een voorwendsel is om hem te vernietigen. Zij zeggen dat de strafzaak tegen Dorjee onacceptabel was omdat de zaak geen slachtoffer kent. Ten tweede was Dorjee’s lening bij de bank gegarandeerd met zijn eigendom als onderpand. En het belangrijkste is dat de hoofdsom en de rente van de lening volledig zijn terugbetaald.

Onderdrukking van Tibetanen
Waarnemers zijn van mening dat de beschuldigingen van zowel politieke ontrouw als financiële onregelmatigheden als voorwendsel dienden om wraak te nemen op Dorjee. Deze wraak komt waarschijnlijk voort uit het feit dat hij de eis van enkele corrupte politieke en veiligheidsleiders voor een villa afwees.

Dorjee Tashi’s detentie getuigt ook van een bijzonder repressief klimaat toen de Chinese autoriteiten hard optraden tegen elk Tibetaans protest in de nasleep van het Tibet-brede protest tegen het Chinese bewind in maart 2008. Dorjee Tashi, destijds lid van de Chinese Communistische Partij en afgevaardigde van de “Chinese Volksconferentie voor Politiek Overleg”, werd niet gespaard van de harde aanpak van de CCP in Tibet.

Tot op de dag van vandaag is het aantal gedode, gemartelde en willekeurig vastgehouden Tibetanen uit 2008 onbekend, omdat er sindsdien geen onafhankelijk Chinees of internationaal onderzoek is gedaan.

  • De getuigenis van Dorjee (Engelse vertaling)

    The harrowing ordeal of Dorjee Tashi during pretrial detention

    Start of interrogation

    I was taken to the interrogation cell at 1:30pm on July 10, 2008. Upon arrival, the officers made me sign a document for interrogation.[1]

    On July 13, rotating interrogation teams, comprising of 3 to 5 officers, interrogated me every four hours nonstop. An officer with the family name Xue(薛) was the main interrogator that day. Later I came to know that Xue held multiple concurrent designations as the Deputy Secretary of Milin County Party Committee[2], Secretary of the County Political and Legal Committee and Director of the County Public Security Bureau (米林县委副书记、县政法委书记和县公安局长). The others in the interrogation teams comprised of Ngodup (欧珠) and Nyima Tsering (尼玛次仁) from the Tibet Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau(西藏自治区公安厅). Wang (王), the Deputy Director of Milin County Public Security Bureau in Nyingtri Prefecture[3] (林芝市米林县公安局副局长), Jigme(晋美) and Phuntsok (平措) from the township level Public Security Bureau in Nyingtri (林芝县之乡或镇公安处) were also part of the interrogation team.[4] The interrogation centered around the minute details of my life. The officers interrogated me about my family, the lead staffs in charge of running my businesses, how I started my business, the current status of my company, the incomes of my businesses, and my relationship with the authorities.

    The interrogators would come with a list of names and pictures and order me to identify them and whether I have had any relations with them or not. I had no sleep for two days and nights, but I gave my full cooperation and answered truthfully to the officers as my life history is clean without any wrongdoing. Initially I thought that the interrogation committee must have mistaken me for someone else. I hoped that the interrogation would conclude soon, and I would be set free. It soon turned out how childish and ignorant my thoughts were. The interrogation prolonged and it turned extremely dark and merciless.

    Ministry of Public Security takes charge of interrogation

    The dawn of July 13 is a day I would never forget in my life. Two plain clothe officers from the central government’s Ministry of Public Security(公安部) arrived in the interrogation cell along with the interrogation team’s Jigme and Ngodup. One of the officers goes by the family name Liu (刘) and the

    other’s family name was Ma (马). It quickly turned out that Liu was the interrogation leader. Liu looked straight into my face and said,

    Dorjee Tashi. Your case is political, and the Ministry of Public Security has taken charge of your case. You should tell us truth and only the truth. We are neither from the ordinary public security bureau nor the state security bureau. We are public security officers with a special mandate and with special powers. The National People’s Congress cannot interfere in our work as our mandate is specially empowered. To tell you in simple words, even if we kill or handicap you, we are not liable under the law. No leader in the Tibet autonomous region can protect you. We have been tapping your phone for many years now. We have all the documentary proof of your crime. You should cooperate with us fully. If you do not cooperate, we will take you to Beijing and make your life miserable.

    Liu then continued,

    What relations do you have with the Dalai[5]? What are your engagements with the Dalai’s activities? Who in your family and friends work in the Dalai’s organization?

    I was surprised at Liu’s questions. Without any doubt, I answered,

    I am a member of the Communist Party of China. After thorough scrutiny, I am admitted as a member of the Party. I am politically clean. The local government has supported my social welfare activities and contributions to the society. I am also a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. I will provide my full cooperation to the central government’s investigation. I hope the central government will decide on me based on facts and the truth.

    Beginning of torture

    This back-and-forth question and answer went on till 6pm that day. Although I did not get sleep for more than 70 hours, I persevered in giving my answers courageously. Liu became angry at me. He dragged a wooden chair and told me to stand on it. He handcuffed me at my back and tied me to the top of interrogation cell’s iron bar. He then pulled the chair beneath my feet. My body weighing 95 kilograms[6] was hung like an object. The hard iron handcuff pierced through my skin and flesh. The pain was excruciating. Tired from the days and nights of interrogation, I passed out. But Liu would hit me with an electric baton all over my body and the electric shock brought me back to consciousness. When I gained consciousness, I could hear Liu angrily say,

    Member of the Party? Delegate of the National People’s Political Consultative Conference? All those praises and rewards are good for nothing. I have tamed tigers in Beijing. You are nothing for me to tame. After the 314 incident[7] in Lhasa, we have killed people like you during investigation. Nobody can do anything about it. If you do not cooperate, you too will meet the same fate.

    Tied to the iron bar with feet dangling in the air, I would again faint. Liu would again bring me back to consciousness using the electric baton. After being hung for many hours, I was dropped down to the floor. After some time, I was again hung up in the air. Jigme and Ngodup from the interrogation team saw me being tortured. Torture continued till the next morning. Then other officers from the interrogation team arrived in the interrogation cell.

    On July 14, the interrogation continued nonstop. Officer Xue continued the interrogation in the morning. I told him Liu and Ma already interrogated me. Xue said, “They are leaders with high rank. We can’t do anything about that.” Xue continued the interrogation throughout the day repeating the same questions and told me to tell the truth. At 8pm, Liu and Ma came back again to the interrogation cell. Liu said that I should tell the truth about a five-year-old phone conversation. I had nothing to reply to baseless accusations. They continued to torture me like the previous night until the morning interrogation team arrived. When I was dropped down to floor, I could not move all my four limbs. They lifted me and put me on the interrogation chair.

    From July 13 to 17, daytime interrogation is relatively lighter than the night. During the day, they would interrogate me about political matters, bribery and corruption, tax evasion and finances. During the night, Liu and Ma would repeat the same questions with torture by hanging me in the air tied to the iron bar and hitting me with the excruciatingly painful electric baton.

    My shoulder swelled and the flesh and skin raptured at some areas forming bloody wounds after five continuous days and nights of interrogation and torture. They did not give me any proper food. Besides losing consciousness due to torture, I was dying for sleep when I was in a conscious state. Whenever, I fell into momentary sleep, I forgot about the pain and torture. I would dream of bed during that momentary sleep.

    New torture method

    Another day in my life that I could never forget is July 18. They used a new torture method that day. In the morning, Liu and Ma accompanied by Jigme and Phuntsok arrived in the interrogation cell. My hands were cuffed behind the interrogation chair. My legs were tied by rope to a long and heavy cement cylindrical roll. They then put a plastic sack on my head and slowly tightened it. The longer the sack is tightened, the harder it gets for me to breathe. I felt that my head would explode, my eyeballs would out come out of the eye socket, and my heart and lungs would burst out of my body. I would pass out in the process. I would then be brought back to consciousness by untightening the plastic sack. Under partial consciousness, I could see that Jigme and Phuntsok discussing concerns over the torture method. But that did not help. Liu and Ma continued with the torture method and Jigme and Phuntsok quietly left the interrogation cell. Although they repeated the torture technique over a dozen time, I did not yield to their brutality. In response, they then reinforced the torture with another tactic. They tilted my head by pulling my hair and inserted an inflatable straw into my nostril. Through the straw, they sent down my nostril hot chili fluid. They then put the plastic sack on my head and tightened it. I felt that my head, eyes, and the body was burning in fire. I cried and shrieked uncontrollably. I felt that I could not breathe any longer and that death is soon. I then lost my consciousness. When I regained consciousness, it had become dusk. For four days, the interrogation team would repeatedly handcuff me to the iron bar or hang me in the air and ask me the same questions over and over again.

    Altogether after twelve days and nights of torture and interrogations, my body and mind were giving up. For four days, I could not eat or drink water as I could no longer swallow anything. At night, the interrogation cell was filled with my shrieks and cries from torture. I saw some of the officers in the interrogation team even shed tear at my ordeal. The guards and officers at the interrogation center started to pay attention to my ordeal. They expressed their concerns several times to the interrogation team and especially to Liu and Ma. On July 22, twelve days after my arrest, I was taken to the detention center for the first time[8]. Since I could no longer fend for myself, a detainee by the family name Zhao was kept in my cell to look after me.

    Taming the Tibetan

    But that was not the end of torture against me.

    In the morning of July 23, Liu and Ma took me back to the interrogation cell again. They handcuffed me from behind to the chair. They would scold and hit me with the electric baton at the highest voltage. I would shrink into the chair and fall on the floor with my head hitting the cold and hard cement floor. I fainted. When I regained consciousness, my mouth was filled with thick blood. Liu put his feet on my head on the floor and angrily shouted, “Tibetans like you are nothing for me to tame”. Liu then tied together my wounded arms and hung me in the air again. He hit me repeatedly with the electric baton. The extremely painful torture made me pass out again. When I regained consciousness, Jigme and Nyima Tsering from the interrogation team released me to the floor and started to beat me with bamboo stick. For the first time, tears rolled out of my eyes. It was not a tear of giving up. It was my tear of anger at the constant torture. I gathered all my strength and told Jigme and Nyima Tsering,

    Both of you are Tibetan. How could you be cruel to a fellow Tibetan. You two should instead be witness to my ordeal.

    Liu who was standing by said,

    It is no use whatever you say. It is your bad luck that you are a Tibetan. If you are Chinese, you would not be here. I have special powers. If you cooperate with us, I can make your prison term be a year or two. Even if our interrogation is unsuccessful, I can make up a chargesheet and have the court pass a judgement on you.

    At that moment, I became fearless. I gathered all my strength and facing Liu I spat the stenchful blood and saliva in my mouth at him. In my eyes, he is no longer a law enforcement officer but a merciless butcher. He is a disgrace to public security.

    Sympathetic gesture from the head of the detention center

    The never-ending interrogation continued.

    On July 28, Liu and Ma showed up with hard rubber batons. With my feet tied together, they angrily beat me hard at the feet without the slightest mercy. My feet swelled and turned blueish with bloody bruises all over. They took me back to the detention cell in an unconscious state. The detention guards recommended that I should be taken to the hospital for emergency care. However, the interrogation team ignored them. The head of the detention center with tears in his eyes sympathetically decided that his guards when ordered by Liu and Ma to bring me to the interrogation cell henceforth can only leave after locking the iron bar gate[9].

    Formally placed under arrest for the charge of “bribery”

    The interrogations continued. On August 9, I was told that I am being formally placed under arrest under the charge of “bribery”. The interrogation team told me that, “this is to ensure enough time to investigate the political nature in your case.”

    After being formally placed under arrest, the frequency of interrogation sessions decreased. It may be because either the interrogation team could not get anything substantial despite their torture methods or due to concerns raised by the head of the detention center. Although I was still tied standing against the iron bar and deprived of sleep during interrogation sessions, the nonstop physical torture stopped. Instead, mental torture and deprivation of life sustenance began. When the wounds and bruises on my body showed signs of gradual healing, Zhao, who was kept in my cell as a support, was no longer detained with me. I was detained alone in the cell. Fed on rice, steamed bun, boiled water and lettuce, all other life sustaining food with nutrition was deprived from me. There was no sanitation item in the cell. After defecation, I had to use my fingers to clean up myself. The detention center in its concern to the interrogation team noted that

    they recognize a detainee being kept alone as going against the procedures for detention to ensure against detainee suicide in custody. They also recognized that deprivation of life sustaining nutritious food is also violation of a detainee’s basic rights.

    The interrogation team in response said that

    he can decide on his own whether to commit suicide or not. You won’t be held liable for his suicide in custody.

    My life in the detention center and interrogation sessions continued.

    Threat to detain family members

    During one interrogation session, Liu and Ma affiliated to the central government’s Ministry of Public Security told me,

    Dorjee Tashi. You should plead guilty to the bribery charge against you. We know you are a mere pawn. If you reveal who is behind you, you may be released. If you do not plead guilty, you will not be able to come out of detention ever again.

    They even threatened me that

    If you do not cooperate, we will detain your 70-year-old mother along with you. It is your responsibility if she dies. We also have many options of rounding up your wife and children.

    At that moment, I stared at Liu and thought to myself how such a person without the slightest mercy and morality could even exist on this earth![10]

    Cleared of political charge

    On October 25, Phuntsok and Nyima Tsering from the interrogation team verbally told me

    The political nature of your case has become clear. There is nothing against you. We are waiting for instructions from the higher authorities. After this, we will begin investigation of your finances.

    Transported to a detention canter in Mainling County in Nyingtri

    At the dawn of November 14, I was suddenly moved back to the Tibet Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau detention center. At 7pm, I was transported to a detention center in Milin county in Nyingtri. That detention center is around 500 kilometers away from Lhasa. It was a small detention center only around 30 kilometers away from the border with India. Yarlung Tsangpo[11] river flows along at the back of the detention center. With no sun light at all, the detention center was very dark and cold. Lit by a single bulb, there were several detainees sleeping side by side like worms on hard wooden plyboard beds. The hard and dirty quilt that the detainees wore was terribly stenchful and infested with lice. It was extremely cold in the cell during the winter. The sound of the dripping tap made the cold even worse with the sound of each water drop hitting the floor. During winter, ice forms on the sides of the bed and on the floor. Even a saliva dropped from one’s mouth quickly turns into ice on the floor. The detainees are fed twice a day. For lunch, it was noodle soup and rice porridge for dinner. The portion was very small, and the detainees felt hungry all the time. At night, armed police randomly show up and call out a detainee by his name. It was very hard to catch sleep. I was detained for 22 days in that detention center. By then, my weight had dropped down to 65 kilograms from 95 before arrest.

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