Bedridden For Years After Torture in Jail, Tibetan Man Dies at 85

2016-03-25
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Gyaye Phuntsok, in an undated photo.
Gyaye Phuntsok, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

An elderly Tibetan man abused more than 16 years ago by his Chinese jailers has died after being left bedridden and unable to walk ever since his release, sources say.

Gyaye Phuntsok, 85, died on March 21 almost two decades after suffering crippling beatings and torture in prison, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He had long been ill-treated in prison,” RFA’s source Yeshe Tenzin said, citing sources in Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) county in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, where Phuntsok had been held.

“He was severely tortured, leaving him unable to stand owing to serious injuries to his legs along with many other injuries on his body,” Tenzin said.  Phuntsok had been confined to his bed ever since his release in 2000 after serving a two-year prison sentence, he added.

“He had suffered for a long time from serious health problems,” Tenzin said. “His condition finally deteriorated, and he died at home.”

“He was 85 years old,” Tenzin said.

Met with Dalai Lama

Phuntsok had come to the attention of Chinese police and security services after traveling to India in 1992 to meet with exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Tenzin said.

“After returning home, he built a temple on an island in Qinghai Lake, but he was later arrested after police seized the religious scriptures he had brought back from India, together with personal messages written to him by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

Phuntsok was then sentenced in 1998 to a two-year term in prison, where the torture he suffered disabled both his legs, leaving him unable to stand, Tenzin said.

The 80-year-old Dalai Lama, whose photos are banned by Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas, fled Tibet into exile in India in 1959 and is reviled by Chinese leaders as a dangerous separatist who seeks to split the formerly self-governing region from Beijing’s rule.

In what he calls a Middle Way Approach, though, the Dalai Lama himself says that he seeks only a “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet as a part of China, with protections for the region’s language, religion, and culture.

Written by Dan Zhen for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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