Tibetan Doctor Linked to Self-Immolation is Freed After Beatings, Torture

tibet-burning-dec82016.jpg Tashi Rabten lies in flames on a street in Machu county, Gansu, Dec. 8, 2016.
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A Tibetan doctor held by police for over a month in China’s Gansu province over suspected links to a self-immolation protest was released last week after suffering beatings and torture in detention, a Tibetan source says.

Khedrup, aged around 50, was taken into custody on Dec. 14 by police in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county in Gansu’s Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He was held for over a month in Machu county, and during that time was interrogated and tortured, suffering beatings and other mistreatment at the hands of the police,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Police suspected Khedrup of sending photos and video clips of the Dec. 8, 2016 self-immolation protest of Machu resident Tashi Rabten to international media, the source said.

“But the authorities could not produce any evidence of his crime, and he was therefore released on Jan. 21, 2017,” he said.

Before his release, authorities warned Khedrup, the resident doctor at Machu’s Mura monastery, not to discuss with “outsiders” any details of what had happened to him while in detention, the source said.

“They said they would be closely watching his daily movements and activities, and warned him that he could be arrested again.”

Police did not return Khedrup’s mobile phone or other belongings taken from at the time he was detained, he said.

Call for freedom

Tashi Rabten, 33, set himself ablaze on Dec. 8 at about 7:00 p.m. local time on a road leading from the Machu county center to the Machu Bridge, local sources said following the protest.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA next day that witnesses to the protest heard Rabten call out for “freedom for Tibet and for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama.”

“He also called out for the release of the [detained] Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima,” RFA’s source said.

Chinese police later beat and tortured Rabten’s wife and daughters after taking them into custody for questioning, local sources said.

The abuse followed authorities’ demand that the three sign a document declaring that Rabten had set himself ablaze not in protest of Chinese policies, but because of problems at home, one source said.

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


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