A Tibetan monk jailed for six years for sharing news of anti-China protests has been freed after serving his full term, but is believed to be in poor health and suffering from impaired vision, Tibetan sources said.
Ngakchung, aged about 45, was taken into custody in 2008 in Chengdu, the capital of western China’s Sichuan province, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
“He was released on July 8, but it is difficult to learn any details about his health,” Serthar Chime said, citing contacts in the region.
“We know for sure that his health was not good while he was detained, and that his eyesight is very weak,” he said, adding, “Because of a recent protest by another monk in Serthar [in Chinese, Seda] county, lines of communication in the area are blocked.”
Ngakchung was detained in Chengdu on July 8, 2008 together with two friends—his elder cousin Traphun and a monk named Gudrak—while on an errand for the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, located in Serthar county in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Chime said.
“The other two were later released, but Ngakchung was held back and was eventually sentenced to six years in prison, with another year of deprivation of political rights to be served following his release,” he said.
“It was alleged that he had passed information on Tibetan movements during protests in 2008 to ‘outside contacts,’” Chime said.
Ngakchung, aged about 39 when he was detained, is a nephew of the Larung Gar Institute’s founder, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, and had studied at the Institute for about 20 years, Chime said, adding, “He had also held responsible posts at the Institute.”
Another Larung Gar monk, Sherkyab, 20, was taken into custody by police on July 9 after launching a solitary protest in Serthar county’s main town, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
During his protest, Sherkyab shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, also throwing leaflets into the air, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“A large group of police arrived and hauled him away to the local police station,” the source said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Nima Namseling for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.