Beliefnet
DHARMSALA, India, Sept. 11 (AP)--Tibetan children as young as six have been detained and tortured by Chinese police, according to a report to be released in November by lawyers and psychologists who interviewed refugee children in India.

The report, entitled "The Fabric of Fear: Children's Rights in Tibet," is being compiled by the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet based on interviews in November 1999 with children who fled Tibet.

A team of three lawyers and two psychologists conducted the research in refugee communities in India. According to a preliminary report released in June, the lawyers said children in Chinese-ruled Tibet have been beaten, shocked with electric cattle prods and hung from the ceiling by the knees.

"Prisons usually did not provide a bed, blanket or clothing. Children were often deprived of food and water and access to toilets. They sometimes shared cells with adults. Some watched guards torture other prisoners," says the preliminary report. "When children were arrested, police often did not inform the family. No child was given access to a lawyer. Prison officials often did not tell the children how long they would be detained."

Dennis Cusack, president of the lawyers group, said Sunday that the report is "a snapshot of a group of children and an indication of the problems that exist."

"We spoke to 57, and of those, 19 had been in detention and then a majority of those again had been tortured. But that isn't a random sample," Cusack said during a visit to Dharmsala, headquarters of the exiled Tibetan political and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. "Children who have been detained for political reasons, for having a scrap of paper with 'free Tibet' written on it or for having been seen with someone putting up a poster of the Dalai Lama or simply trying to leave Tibet--these children are detained. And they are, nearly as routinely as adults, tortured."

Cusack said the abuse included waking the children frequently by shining flashlights in their faces at night and making noises like wild animals outside their cells. Some of the children are now displaying symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, he said.

Children also told of being abused by police outside prisons. One boy described being mauled by dogs unleashed by police because his brother was suspected of being an independence activist.

"It's very common in Tibet to harass family members of people considered to be political dissidents," Cusack said.

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