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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Tibetan nuns 'died after torture'
Lhasa Temple
Tibet has been under Chinese rule since 1950
A Tibetan human rights group has made fresh allegations of torture against the Chinese authorities there.

The Tibetan Information Network said that five nuns, who died two years ago in a prison near the capital Lhasa, were driven to their death by beatings and electric shock treatment.

The allegations coincide with the 50th anniversary of Chinese troops' entry into Tibet.

The nuns reportedly committed suicide in Drapchi prison following the beatings, provoked by pro-independence protests in May 1998.
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama backs dissidents inside Tibet

Inmates refused to sing patriotic Chinese songs as the Chinese flag was raised and instead shouted Tibetan nationalist slogans.

A surviving nun who has arrived in exile told the group that she and her comrades were beaten so badly with belts and electric batons that the walls and floors of the room were covered with blood.

After a week of interrogations, the nuns were forced to stand motionless in the summer sunshine for four days.

On the following day, five nuns were found dead in a storeroom and survivors were threatened with further prison terms if they talked about what they had seen.

Protests continue

The network's Kate Saunders told the BBC's Asia Today programme that some nuns were still participating in similar protests in the prison despite knowing about their comrades' maltreatment.

This demonstrated the nuns' determination to preserve Tibetan identity and culture in the face of Chinese attempts to make them conform, she said.

Beijing has not yet reacted to the report but described a previous document by the network on political imprisonment last year as a "pack of lies".

China routinely denies human rights abuses in Tibet and points of the construction of roads, factories and hospitals as evidence of its "benevolent" rule.

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See also:

10 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jailed Tibetan receives visit from mother
23 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China 'beating' Tibet separatism
26 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
China accused of ruining Tibet
18 Feb 00 | South Asia
Dalai Lama's appeal for Tibet
13 Apr 00 | South Asia
Dalai Lama meeting cancelled in Japan
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