China Releases Tibetan Nomad Jailed For Eight Years For Lithang Protest

2015-07-31
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A screen grab from a video of Runggye Adrak calling for Tibetan freedom, Aug. 1, 2007.
A screen grab from a video of Runggye Adrak calling for Tibetan freedom, Aug. 1, 2007.
International Campaign for Tibet

A Tibetan nomad jailed for eight years for calling in public for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been released after serving his full term in prison and has returned to his home, according to Tibetan sources in the region and in exile.

Runggye Adrak was taken into custody on Aug. 1, 2007, after shouting slogans from a stage during an annual horse-racing festival in Lithang county in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western China’s Sichuan province.

Sentenced in November 2007 to an eight-year term for “inciting to split the country” and “subverting state power,” Adrak was released on Thursday, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Runggye Adrak was released and reached home at around 1:00 a.m.,” RFA’s source, Tibetan exile parliamentarian Adruk Tseten said, citing contacts in Lithang.

Separately, a Tibetan in Lithang confirmed the release, speaking to a monk now living at a monastery in India and originally from Lithang.

“He was taken to his home by security personnel,” the source said, adding, “We are not allowed to talk about it.”

Beaten, tortured

Adrak’s detention following his 2007 protest drew hundreds of Tibetan protesters into police and government office compounds in Lithang, prompting police to threaten to shoot when tensions were at their height.

Authorities managed to negotiate an uneasy truce, but security forces then converged on Lithang in large numbers, and local Tibetan Communist Party officials in the area were replaced with Han Chinese.

Runggye Adrak was severely beaten and tortured in detention, and was later confined in Sichuan’s Mianyang prison before his release on July 30, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights (TCHRD) and Democracy said on Friday.

“There is no information available on his [present] physical and psychological condition,” TCHRD said in a statement.

“Attempts to get more information on his status have come to naught due to restrictions on communication channels across Lithang County,” the rights group said.

Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet meanwhile cited unconfirmed reports that this year’s festival in Lithang has been canceled “as a crackdown in the area deepens” following the unexplained July 12 death of popular spiritual leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in a Chinese prison.

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

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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