Former Tibetan Prisoner is Detained, Tortured After Criticizing Chinese Policies

tibet-soggyatso-july282016.jpeg Lodroe Gyatso is shown following his release from prison in May 2013.
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A Tibetan man freed under supervision three years ago after serving more than 20 years in prison was released this month from an additional two months of detention during which he was beaten and tortured, Tibetan sources said.

Lodroe Gyatso, aged 55 and also known as Sogkar Lodroe, was released on July 22 from jail in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, a source in Tibet told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He was severely beaten and tortured during the two months and six days he was held at Tsamthak jail in Driru,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He lost about 15 pounds while in detention, and remains in poor and frail physical health,”  the source said.

Gyatso had previously spent 21 years behind bars and was sentenced originally for 15 years for killing a man in a fight in 1991, but had his sentence extended two years later for engaging in political activism while incarcerated, sources said in earlier reports.

Following his release under police supervision in May 2013, Gyatso had recently criticized what he called China’s “oppressive policies” in some of the eastern counties of Nagchu prefecture, RFA’s source said.

“He pointed out to higher officials the discrepancies in their implementation of local Chinese policies, adding that this had resulted in harsh and unfair treatment of Tibetans that was contrary to national and international standards of law.”

“He was also critical of local Chinese authorities’ insistence that Tibetans wear traditional clothing lined with fur,” a practice discouraged by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and abandoned by local Tibetans some time before.

“For all these reasons, the Chinese authorities took him into custody again on May 14,” he said.

Bravery, patriotism

Gyatso, a native of Tsadrok township in Nagchu prefecture’s Sog (Suo) county, was previously a member of the Sog Performing Arts Troupe and had a reputation among his former fellow prisoners for “physical strength, bravery, and patriotism,” RFA’s source said.

In an article written last year titled “The Earth and Me,” Gyatso had called for the protection of Tibet’s natural environment, he said.

“He is married and has six siblings, including one younger brother and five sisters.”

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 145 Tibetans living in China have now set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

Reported by Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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