Tibetan Prisoner Released in Poor Health Following Abuse in Jail

2014-02-26
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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

Authorities in northwestern China’s Gansu province have released a Tibetan prisoner in poor health following years of beatings and abuse in jail, apparently fearing he might die in custody, sources said.

Goshul Lobsang, 43, was detained in May 2010 after evading police who had sought him for his role in leading protests challenging Chinese rule in Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) prefecture’s Machu (Maqu) county in 2008, his brother Demjong told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Lobsang 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.

“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.”

Scant information

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, is now looked after by his wife Tare and 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 127 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 Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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