Tibetan Political Detainee Died in 2019, Exile Source Says

Chinese authorities call Norsang's death a suicide, while local Tibetans believe he was tortured.
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Tibetan Political Detainee Died in 2019, Exile Source Says Tibetan political detainee Norsang, reported dead following a course of 'political reeducation,' is shown in an undated photo.
Photo from Tibet

A Tibetan father of six died under unclear circumstances after his release from a course of political reeducation in detention Tibet’s Nagchu prefecture two years ago, RFA has learned.

Norsang, aged around 35 and a resident of Geso village in Nagchu’s (Chinese, Naqu) Tsalhi town, had been ordered by Chinese authorities to attend the course, A Tibetan living in India said, citing local sources.

“Norsang and a few other Tibetans from the same town were sent to the political reeducation class in September 2019,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The rest of them were released, but Norsang’s whereabouts remained unknown for a long time,” the source said. “But we recently learned that he died in 2019 after being severely tortured by authorities.”

Because of tight internet restrictions and other communications clampdowns in Nagchu, the scene of frequent protests against Chinese rule, the date and other details of Norsang’s death are still unknown, RFA’s source said.

“The Chinese authorities said he had killed himself by jumping off a bridge because he couldn’t pay a debt, but we have learned that he didn’t owe money to anyone, and that he had been living responsibly at home with his family at the time of his arrest.”

Five or six police cars had arrived in Norsang’s home town following his arrest, “and for a few days his house was continuously searched,” the source said.

“His wife and family were harassed, too,” the source added.

Opposed to Chinese policies

Norsang was known to be hostile to Chinese political reeducation policies imposed in Nagchu and had opposed orders to “worship Chinese leaders and cut ties with separatists,” according to the source.

“So he was detained and finally killed by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

Torture and harsh conditions in Chinese prisons often cause permanent damage to the physical and mental health of Tibetans held there, and many die shortly after their release or after many years of suffering at home, sources say.

Speaking to RFA, Pema Gyal—a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy—said that Tibetans face many problems under the political policies imposed in Tibetan areas under Chinese rule.

“But due to tight internet restrictions and the scrutiny of officials, detailed information about these things is hard to come by,” Gyal said.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Lobsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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