Tibetan Political Prisoner Dies After 'Brutal' Torture in Jail

2014-03-21
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Goshul Lobsang in a picture taken in early February, 2014.
Goshul Lobsang in a picture taken in early February, 2014.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

A Tibetan who was “brutally tortured” and suffered other abuses in jail for challenging Chinese rule has died following his release from custody before the end of his term, a rights group and sources close to the former political prisoner said.

Goshul Lobsang, 43, who had been beaten so severely that he could not even swallow his food, died on March 19 at his family home in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern China’s Gansu province, the sources said.

“His condition never improved after he was released, and he remained bedridden until he took his last breath on March 19 at around midnight local time,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Lobsang passed away surrounded by family members, a second Tibetan source said.

“His wife, son, and younger brother were present in his final moments,” Lhamo Kyab, who lives in India, said, citing local contacts.

“He could not say anything, but simply folded his hands and died,” he said.

Separately, the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) confirmed Lobsang’s death in a statement Friday.

“Chinese police and prison authorities [had] brutally tortured him in detention and in prison,” TCHRD said, adding, “He suffered life-threatening injuries as a result.”

“When Goshul Lobsang died, it hardly surprised his family and friends given his extreme health condition,” TCHRD said.

Sought for role in protests

Goshul Lobsang was detained in May 2010 after evading police who had sought him for his role in protests challenging Chinese rule in Machu county in 2008, his brother Demjong told RFA last month.

He was released on Oct. 27, 2013, “when his health deteriorated in detention and his chances for survival appeared dim,” Australia-based Demjong said, citing contacts in the region. News of his release was made available only last month.

“His condition was so bad that he could not even swallow his food,” he said.

Initially detained for five months in Machu county, Lobsang was shackled and “severely beaten and tortured by authorities,” Demjong said, adding that Lobsang later suffered “persistent” torture after being moved to a jail in the provincial capital Lanzhou.

“The authorities gave him some medicine when his condition declined, but this did not help him for very long,” Demjong said.

“As a result, his appearance was reduced to that of a skeleton and he was released on Oct. 27, 2013, when authorities began to feel he might not survive.”

News of release delayed

No information was immediately available on whether Lobsang had ever been formally charged or sentenced.

Nor was any explanation given for the four-month delay in news of his release, though reports of developments in Tibetan areas are often slowed due to strict controls imposed by Chinese authorities.

Lobsang, who had moved briefly to India in 1992 and studied for a time at the Suja Tibetan School in Himachal Pradesh, was cared for after his release by his wife Tare and their two children in their native Pelpen village in Machu, his brother said.

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

A total of 129 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by Lumbum Tashi and Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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