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Tibet-Guchusum-2016Dharamshala — June 26 is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Tibetans in exile including former Tibetan political prisoners have gathered in the Himalayan town of McLeod Ganj to mark the event. They condemned the Chinese government for its practice of torture and ill-treatment in Tibet.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and former political prisoners' movement Gu-Chu-Sum organized a string of events to memorialise the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26, 2016. A photo exhibition showing torture in Tibet was also held in the twon, while displaying physical evidence of torture include, equipment smuggled out of prison and blood stained clothes of Tibetan prisoners.

The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – 26 June is held annually on 26 June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world. The day was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly for two reasons. First, on 26 June 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed during the midst of World War II – the first international instrument obliging UN members to respect and promote human rights. Second, 26 June 1987 was when the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect.

The Department of Health (DoH), CTA commemorated the day with a play titled 'History Written in Blood' at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts on Sunday, 26 June.

The play, enacted by Tibet theater, a Tibetan dramatics association and organised by the torture and substance abuse section of the Health Department, was based on a true-story of a Tibetan, who had suffered torture inflicted upon them by the Chinese authorities. The play aimed to shed light on the tortures perpetrated by Chinese.

Mr Tsewang Ngodup, Additional Secretary at the Department of Health and Mr Dawa Rinchen, Tibetan settlement officer, Dharamshala were the two honoured guests at the play.

Sonam Dolma, in-charge of Torture Survivors Program under DoH, said, "The main aim of organizing the theater is to primarily to get our message through to the youth since they are the future of our nation. Moreover, we hope that through theater we can help the youth understand the reality inside Tibet."

She further added that the support shown was not just for ex-political prisoners in exile but also for Tibetans presently suffering at the hands of the oppressive Chinese government.

The organization of former political prisoners co-ordinated a series of event titled 'Remembering Tibetan Heroes' at the Club House in McLeod Ganj where Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, attended as the chief guest. He officially launched the organization's website and the organization's Annual Human Rights report as well.

Gu-Chu-Sum held a photo exhibition heralding various protest stories of Tibetans against the Chinese. Also on display were torture equipment smuggled out of prison and blood stained clothes of prisoners. Gu-Chu-Sum simulataneously launched an online photo campaign to mark the day and show support. This campaign was supported by a number of groups such as Students for a Free Tibet and shared heavily online.

Supporters later joined a candlelight vigil followed by a poetry recital in the evening.

United Nations Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon has expressed support for and solidarity with the victims of torture and their families throughout the world, and underscored that torture must never be used under any circumstances, including during conflict or when national security is under threat.

"Despite its absolute prohibition under international law, this dehumanizing practice remains pervasive and, most disturbingly, is even gaining acceptance," Mr Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

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