A Tibetan singer detained and beaten three years ago for singing the Tibetan national anthem died in China’s Sichuan province on Friday after his health, already weakened by his treatment in jail, suddenly failed this week, Tibetan sources said.
Pema Wangchen, 31, “fell seriously ill two days ago,” a source living in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service on April 26.
“He had severe back pain, and his body became so swollen that he could not even put on his shoes,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Admitted to a hospital in Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu, Wangchen died on April 26, the source said.
Wangchen had been detained by police in February 2016 on a charge of singing the Tibetan national anthem, “and had been severely tortured for the duration of the month and 10 days he spent in detention,” RFA’s source said.
“He was finally released in poor health, and in 2017 had gone for help to several hospitals in China, but his condition was not diagnosed and he was never treated,” he said.
Wangchen, who had studied in a Tibetan exile school in India in 2002 and then returned to his native Woksang village in Kardze county to work as a taxi driver, is survived by his parents, his ex-wife and their three children, and his current wife and son, the source said.
His brother, Palden Thinley, had been a monk at Kardze monastery and was jailed for four years after taking part in a 2008 protest against Chinese rule, the source said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Kardze and in other Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Most protests have featured calls for Tibetan freedom and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama 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.