March 29, 2012 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Authorities openly threaten those who circulate information with “torture”

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the policy of terror openly pursued by the Chinese authorities in Gan Lho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (甘南藏族自治州) in the northwestern province of Gansu, where the police have posted notices in public places in which “criminals” who circulate certain views and information are threatened with “beating” and “torture” (རྡུང་རྡེག). The existence of the notices was revealed by Tibet Post International, a Tibetan news website based in Dharamsala, in northern India. The site operates under the aegis of the Himalayan Literacy Trust, a Reporters Without Borders partner organization. “The aim of these torture threats is to instil terror in all those who might circulate information about the government’s repressive policies,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By posting warnings of physical reprisals, the Public Security Bureau is directly violating article 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which China has signed. This article says that ‘An order from (...) a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.’ “We call on the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to open an investigation based on this notice published by the Chinese authorities and to condemn their use of such threats. The police must immediately withdraw these posters and stop legitimizing the use of torture and physical mistreatment for criminal actions that are deliberately defined in vague, loose terms open to broad interpretation.” According to a report yesterday on the Tibet Post International website, the notice has been posted in at least six of Gan Lho's counties and one city-county. Gan Lho is part of Amdo, the northernmost of the three traditional regions of Tibet. The notice calls on the public to inform on “criminals” who “threaten the social stability of Gan Lho” and lists a series of prohibited activities that include “corrupting” the public with “ideas of splitting the nation,” inciting “illegal activities,” harming national security, destabilising society, “agitation between ethnic groups” and promoting “illegal organizations.” All of these actions “will be met with violent beating/torture by the Public Security Bureau,” the notice says. The list of illegal activities also defines the means of communication and information whose use is forbidden for “criminal purposes.” They include “speech and the distribution of written information,” “cartoons,” “home-made materials,” “videos,” “websites,” “emails and audio files,” and “SMS texts.” The notice finally promises informers that they will get protection, confidentiality and a reward of 5,000 Chinese Yuan. Translation of the notice (as translated by Tibet Post International): Notice: Gan Lho Public Security Bureau (PSB) requests the public to inform on criminals who threaten the social stability of Gan Lho Protect social and political stability in Gan Lho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and quickly establish a harmonious Gan Lho! Establish a better economic environment for investment! Be vigilant of and crack down on criminals who threaten Gan Lho’s social stability! Directly inform on criminal lairs! The following directives have been authorized by the security department: I) Damage to national security, the destabilization of society, the destruction of ethnic unity. All the following actions will be met with violent beating/torture by the PSB: 1) The disturbance of relations between ethnic groups, public agitation between ethnic groups, the destruction of national unity. 2) The corruption of the public with ideas of the splitting of the nation, through speech and the distribution of written information, cartoons, home-made materials, videos etc - all acts destructive to social discipline and stability. 3) The membership, promotion of, or the making of donations to illegal organizations - all of which harm national security and destabilize society. 4) The incitement of the public to illegal activities through websites, emails and audio files, all acts destructive to ethnic unity through websites and SMS texts, and other major criminal actions against the security of society. 5) The engagement in criminal activities such as grievous bodily harm, destruction of property, arson and looting etc, and the coercion of others into criminal acts that damage the security of society. II) Any member of the public who informs the police about the above criminal acts or gives the police information about the perpetrators will be guaranteed personal protection by PSB officers, personal confidentiality and a reward of 5,000 Chinese Yuan. III) This directive is to be applied with immediate effect. 0941 - 669 6271, 6696272 In a 23 February press release, Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm at the blackout imposed by the Chinese authorities on coverage of the ongoing protests in the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai and the autonomous region of Tibet. According to organizations that defend human rights in Tibet, at least 30 Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks, have set fire to themselves since March 2011. China fell six places in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is now ranked 174th out of 179 countries.