Chinese authorities in Sichuan this week released a Tibetan monk from prison in poor health after he completed a five-year term during which he was tortured for protesting Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, according to a local source.
Tsewang Dragpa, who participated in a 2008 protest in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county, was released Wednesday, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.
“His health is not good, and one of his hands has reportedly been injured,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Dragpa, believed to be about 25, was detained by police on June 6, 2008 after staging a public protest in Draggo in Sichuan's Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Two other monks—Thubten Gyatso, from Minyak, a town in Sichuan’s Tawu (Daofu) county, and Jangchub Nyima, from Yulshul (Yushu) county in Qinghai province—were taken into custody at the same time, the source said.
“They called out that Tibet is independent and demanded economic, religious, and political freedoms,” the source said.
“A large group of police arrived at the scene, and all three monks were detained and taken away,” he said.
After being held for a month in Draggo, the monks were transferred to Dartsedo (Kangding) county, where a Kardze prefecture court sentenced Tsewang Dragpa to a five-year term in prison, Thubten Gyatso to a four-year term, and Jangchub Nyima to a three-year term.
“While being held at Miyang prison, the three monks suffered severely at the hands of security officials at the jail,” RFA’s source said.
No news has been received concerning the release of Gyatso and Nyima.
The monks’ June 6, 2008 protest came nearly three months after a wave of anti-China protests swept Tibetan regions, prompting a widespread security crackdown.
Sporadic demonstrations and a campaign of self-immolations have continued since then, with 119 Tibetans to date having set themselves ablaze to challenge Chinese rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
China routinely accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of orchestrating the burning protests.
But Tibetan exile leaders, while publicly honoring what they call the “sacrifices” made by self-immolators, have denied involvement in the burnings and have called on Tibetans in Tibet to refrain from “drastic actions.”
Reported by Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.