Tibetan Prisoner in Failing Health Three Years Into 10-Year Term


2015.08.26
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Lobsang Gendun engulfed in flames, Dec. 3, 2012.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A Tibetan man jailed three years ago for preventing Chinese police from seizing the body of a self-immolation protester is in failing health in prison and has been refused family visits from his aging parents, sources said.

Washul Dortruk, age unknown, was handed a ten-year term in December 2012 after returning the body of Lobsang Gendun to his monastery in Qinghai province’s Pema (in Chinese, Banma) county, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“Since then, he has been serving his sentence in a prison located in the eastern part of [provincial capital] Xining,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He has completed almost three years, and has another seven years to serve,” he said.

Lobsang Gendun, 29, set himself ablaze on Dec. 3 to protest China’s rule in Tibetan areas and walked about 300 steps with his hands folded in prayer, shouting slogans, before he collapsed and died, sources said in earlier reports.

Though Chinese police arrived quickly at the scene to remove his remains, local Tibetans struggled with them for possession of the body and took it to Pema county’s Penak monastery, where Gendun had lived before staging his fiery protest, sources said.

Failing health

Dortruk, one of those who returned the dead monk’s body to his home, is now in poor health in prison, RFA’s source said.

“His parents were allowed to meet with him some years back, but they are now in their 80s and have been refused permission to see him again,” he said.

When other family members were allowed to visit him this year, they could see and speak to him only through a glass partition, the source said.

“At that time, they saw that he was very weak, and he appeared to have suffered a serious injury to his leg while in detention.”

“His family has appealed for a commutation of his sentence, but the authorities have not responded positively to their request,” he said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 142 Tibetans to date setting themselves on fire to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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