Tibetan Woman Freed From Prison in Poor Health After Serving Three-Year Term

2016-12-05
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Drolma Tso is shown following her release from prison in Sichuan on Dec. 4, 2016.
Drolma Tso is shown following her release from prison in Sichuan on Dec. 4, 2016.
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A Tibetan woman jailed in Sichuan for attempting to rescue a self-immolation protester from police has been released in poor health after serving a three-year term, sources say.

Drolma Tso, who had been held in Mianyang prison near Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu, was freed on Dec. 4 and returned to her home in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county’s Meruma township at about 9:00 p.m. the same day, a relative living in Australia told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“More than 200 local residents had gathered there to welcome her back,” RFA’s source, named Miu Kunjam, said, citing contacts in the region.

Tso was beaten and tortured during the first 11 months of her confinement and is now in poor health, Kunjam said.

“She is suffering from lack of proper sleep, weak health, giddiness, and mood swings, among other problems,” Kunjam said. “Her family members are deeply worried and concerned about her condition.”

Tso, a member of Meruma’s Getsang family, has a 14-year-old daughter named Tsultrim Drolma. Her father’s name is Gerik, and her mother’s name is Donkho, Kunjam said.

In December 2015, Tso’s family received two letters from prison authorities informing them that Tso would have to undergo surgery, but when family members asked to see her so that they could see her condition for themselves, they were not allowed to meet with her, Kunjam said.

“But Tso managed to call them from the prison and tell them she was being forced to undergo a procedure she had declined, and warning them not to give their approval.”

It was not immediately clear what surgery officials were insisting on performing or whether the procedure was ever performed.

Clashed with police

Tso was among a group of Ngaba residents who had clashed with police in December 2013 as they tried to stop security forces from taking a severely burned self-immolation protester, Konchog Tseten, away from the site of his protest, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Tseten, a 30-year-old herdsman and father of two, later died on his way to a hospital, and authorities secretly cremated his remains, returning his ashes to his family without explanation.

On Nov. 3, 2014, Tso was convicted on a charge of homicide and was handed a three-year-term, with credit given for the time already spent in custody after being detained on Dec. 3 the year before.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Ngaba and in other Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 145 Tibetans living in China have now set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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