[JURIST] The Chinese government has not accounted for hundreds of Tibetan protesters arrested in connection with the March 2008 demonstrations in Tibet [BBC backgrounder], according to a Monday statement [press release] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], which revealed a thorough review regarding the numbers of arrests, detentions, and trials of the protesters. The press release revealed discrepancies in the numbers of demonstrators detained and released as reported by state media sources and government officials. HRW also called on the Chinese government to provide an extensive account of all who were detained, released, tried, and sentenced in relation to the protests; to allow neutral international organizations full access to detention facilities; and to observe and respect the human rights of all the demonstrators in their custody. The Chinese government has insisted that the claims of human rights abuses have been perpetuated by ethnic Tibetan factions dissatisfied by the Communist Party. Asia advocacy director at HRW Sophie Richardson said that the Chinese government has been using these excuses and has not been cooperative with any international human rights organizations at revealing the numbers of alleged arbitrary arrests, detentions, and sentencing hearings, adding that:
The government's national security concerns do not exempt it from its obligation to respect fundamental rights and freedoms and offer equal status before the law to all its citizens, whatever their ethnicity … Yet Beijing's own official accounts reflect judicial defects so severe that it is not possible to deliver a fair trial to any one accused of having taken part in the protests last year.
There are allegedly several hundred protesters still in custody and documents have revealed that contrary to information supplied by the Chinese government, several demonstrators died after the March 2008 demonstrations. To date there has been no public information regarding the trials of the remaining demonstrators.
Last June, the Chinese government released more than 1000 demonstrators [JURIST report] detained by authorities during the March 2008 demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet. In April 2008, a Chinese court sentenced 30 people to prison [JURIST report] for their roles in the demonstrations. Chinese officials have blamed the exiled Dalai Lama [personal website] for organizing the protests. Rights groups have criticized China for ongoing human rights violations [HRW materials] targeted at Tibetans, and many call for the total independence [advocacy website] of the currently "semi-autonomous" region.