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CHINA: Enforced disappearance of Tibetan monks raises concerns

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tibetan_monks.jpgConcerns have been raised over the enforced disappearance of five monks from the Ramoche Temple in Lhasa, whose whereabouts have been unknown since a midnight raid carried out by Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People's Armed Police (PAP) on 7 April 2008.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), three of the missing persons have been identified as Mr. Sonam Rabgyal (a former Chanzoe (manager and treasurer)), Damdul and Rabgyal. The two other monks have not been identified.

According to the information received from TCHRD, PSB and PAP conducted midnight raid in Ramoche Temple on 7 April and detained around 70 monks.
Most of them were released after a few days of interrogation except aforementioned five monks, whose whereabouts is still completely unknown.

It is difficult to obtain any information from the 65 released monks about what happened during their detention because they are heavily monitored by PSB officials.
This is not the first case of enforced disappearance Tibetans. Since 10 March 2008, when the current wave of demonstration began, several enforced disappearance cases have been reported.

According to TCHRD's estimate, there are at least more than a thousand Tibetans whereabouts and well being remains completely unknown to their families or affiliated monasteries.
As an example, Thabkhey and Tsundue of Labrang Monastery suddenly disappeared after they visited foreign media on 7 April.

In addition, Migmar Dhondup who is a former student of SOS Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala, India is also missing after the March protest.

Enforced disappearance is one of the most serious and fundamental violations of human rights and it constitutes a permanent crime, including right to life, right to recognition as a person before the law, right to liberty and security of the person, and right to family which are enshrined in several international human rights instruments.

These rights are also emphasised in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which the People's Republic of China has ratified in 1998 and 1988 respectively.

Enforced disappearance challenges the very concept of human rights: it amounts to the denial of the right of a person to exist, to have an identity. Enforced disappearance turns a human being into a non-being.