The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances [official website] called Wednesday for China to address its practice of "enforced disappearances" [press release] and reveal the location of 355 detained Tibetan monks [Free Tibet report]. In April, Chinese authorities took the monks from the Kirti monastery in buses to an unknown location. In the process, they are accused of "violently" removing a human shield of local elderly women attempting to protect the monastery. Two villagers died in the removal, but the cause was not reported. Since then, the monastery has been "boarded up" and presumably abandoned. Although the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has reports that some of the monks have been released, they requested details on all of the monks, as well as all others in China's history of "enforced disappearances." They also recalled China's promise to ratify two international treaties related to disappearing persons: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance [text]. In March, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances also called on the Chinese government to free detained human rights lawyer [JURIST report] Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], whom they claim is being held in violation of international law. China has not commented on either matter.
China's human rights record has been widely criticized. Earlier this month, the US State Department (DOS) [official website] urged the Chinese government to release protesters [JURIST report] arrested during peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square [BBC backgrounder] in June 1989. Last year detained Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was announced [JURIST report] as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government denounced the decision, calling it "contrary to the purpose of the Nobel Prize." In February 2010, a Chinese appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Liu's 11-year prison sentence despite calls for his release from US and EU officials. Liu was tried [JURIST report] in December 2009 on subversion charges in a trial that lasted only two hours and was closed to foreign diplomats. Liu was formally arrested in June 2009 and charged [JURIST reports] in December, but he has been in detention since December 2008, shortly before the petition's release. In June 2009, rights groups marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 uprising in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, calling for the government to investigate the incident [JURIST report] and implement changes called for by Charter 08.