In letter left behind after his death, Nyima Drakpa describes torture

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2003�The Tibetan monk who died last week while serving a prison term for putting up anti-Chinese posters has left behind a letter, obtained by Radio Free Asia (RFA), in which he describes torture he suffered at the hands of his Chinese jailers.

The letter, dated April 1, 2001 and addressed to Tibet�s exiled leader the Dalai Lama, was intended for release after Nyima Drakpa�s death. Nyima Drakpa, in his late 20s, died at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2 in Dawu (in Chinese, Daofu) County, an historically Tibetan area now part of China�s Sichuan Province, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"On March 22, [2000], when I was in Lhasa, four Public Security people from Dawu County came and arrested me," he wrote. "Without asking anything, they beat me so severely that I couldn�t speak. Without food or even a drop of water, I was put on a plane and escorted to Chengdu, where I was detained for 10 days."

"During those days I was beaten severely and couldn�t move because I was in so much pain. Without any pity, they made me half-dead and my legs became numb. Under such severe pain and torture, I confessed that I had put up the posters. Therefore last year, on Oct. 5, the Karze Court sentenced me to nine years� imprisonment," he wrote. "I am still suffering. I cannot eat well and my legs remain damaged by the beatings. I know I will not survive long. I am not afraid of death."

"I appeal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to let the world know of this... All our Tibetan brothers and sisters should know how the Chinese are illegally bullying us with torture and imprisonment."

In the letter, signed Kheri Nyima Drakpa, he described himself as "a Tibetan youth of Dawu County in [the] Kham" region of what was historically Tibet. "I have boundless affection and devotion for the Tibetans. In my research, I learned how backward our race is, and how we don�t even have the basic human right of using our own language... In other words, we don�t enjoy any kind of political authority in our own land," Nyima Drakpa wrote.

"At the same time, after studying the wonderful history of our ancestors who governed our country, I have the courage and determination to sacrifice even my life for the Tibetans. I wish for an independent country of our own where all Tibetans can enjoy real freedom."

"I decided to sacrifice my own life and put up posters on April 9, 1998, on Nov. 10, 12, and 19, 1999, on Dec. 6 and 29, 1999, and Jan. 7, 2000, on the sides and walls of Dawu County government buildings in Dawu," he wrote. In one poster, he said, he signed his own name, and in all of them he called on China to cede control of Tibet.

Nyima Drakpa was hospitalized 10 days before his death, sources told RFA�s Tibetan service. "When he was brought in, he could not speak and his legs were thin and lifeless," said one person who asked not to be named.

The precise cause of death wasn�t immediately known. Chinese authorities had transferred Nyima Drakpa from prison to hospital in late September as his health deteriorated sharply. Nyima Drakpa had been serving a nine-year term for alleged "activities to split the motherland and destabilize the community."

"While in prison, Chinese officials told him to confess his mistakes in exchange for early release, but he just reiterated that what he had written was true, and he told them to do whatever they wanted to him," another source said.

An official with the Chinese public security office in Dawu, contacted by telephone Oct. 2, said at the time that Nyima Drakpa was in good health. "He committed a serious mistake by getting involved in splittist activities and undermining stability in the community," the official said. "He is healthy, and I don�t know of any ailment. I also don�t know where he is detained. There are others detained in prisons who are accomplices of Nyima Drakpa."

Nyima Drakpa was a monk at the Nyatso monastery in Dawu, according to people who knew him. He joined the Ganden monastery in India after fleeing there in 1990. Nyima Drakpa attended Khampa University in Dawu, where he read Tibetan history.

According to the 2002 State Department report on human rights around the world, Chinese authorities in Tibet "continue to commit serious human rights abuses, including instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully expressing their political or religious views."

"Individuals accused of political activism faced ongoing harassment during the year. There were reports of imprisonment and abuse of nuns and monks accused of political activism," it said. "There were no reports of prisoner deaths during the year. Deaths of at least 41 Tibetan political prisoners since 1989 can be attributed to severe abuse under detention; at least 20 of those prisoners had been in Lhasa�s Drapchi Prison."

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. > ;


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