Freed Tibetan Prisoner Receives a Hero's Welcome

2013-05-23
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Dondrub is greeted by family and friends in Gepasumdo county after his release, May 20, 2013.
Dondrub is greeted by family and friends in Gepasumdo county after his release, May 20, 2013.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

A Tibetan protester was warmly greeted by relatives and friends following his release from a Chinese prison this week, with area residents lining the roads and offering ceremonial scarves to welcome his return, according to local sources.

Dondrub, 30, had been jailed for taking part in a March 18, 2012 demonstration challenging Chinese rule in Qinghai province’s Gepasumdo (in Chinese, Tongde) county, and was released this year on May 20, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“Local Tibetans lined up along the roads to warmly welcome him,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Some embraced him with tears of joy, and others offered him scarves as a sign of respect and good wishes.”

“Dondrub’s relatives arranged a simple welcome reception at his house, where many more Tibetans came together to greet and welcome him,” he said.

“Dondrub briefed the Tibetans who were gathered there on the details of his ordeal in prison,” he said, adding that Dondrub’s hands are now “unwell” following long periods of restraint in handcuffs.

Dondrub’s father’s name is Rigdor and his mother’s name is Khandro Gyal, the source said.

Taken into custody with Dondrub following the protest in March last year were Gyarig Thar, Dorje Tsebe, and Pathar Gyal, RFA’s source said.

“Gyarig Thar died of injuries a few months after he was detained, and the last two were released, also after a few months. But Dondrub was held until the end of his full term in prison,” he said.

Police attack protesters

Described as initially peaceful, last year’s protest turned violent when Chinese police assaulted the crowd, wounding an unknown number in an apparent grenade attack, Tibetan sources told RFA at the time.

“On March 18, Chinese security forces threw explosives into a crowd of Tibetan protesters in Gepasumdo county in the Tsolho [in Chinese, Hainan] prefecture,” a Tibetan living in South India said, citing sources in the region.

“Seven who were severely injured were taken to hospital, but some of those who were hurt could not be taken for treatment,” the source said.

Details of the police assault, and the nature of the “explosives” used in the attack, could not be independently confirmed.

The incident followed three days of local protests calling for the release of 50 monks from nearby Ba Shingtri monastery who were detained three days before for raising the banned Tibetan national flag and shouting political slogans, sources said.

One month later, Chinese authorities seized land from three Tibetan nomad villages in Gepasumdo for distribution to Han Chinese migrating to the area, a Tibetan resident told RFA.

The new wave of migration will result in the growth of a Chinese town fueled by construction of two hydroelectric projects, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chinese officials told local Tibetans that their animals would not be allowed to remain on the land taken over by the government, and villagers were advised to reduce the number of their animals by selling them to slaughterhouses, RFA’s source said.

Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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