A Tibetan man living in southwest China’s Sichuan province was beaten to death by police last month, as fears mount that a Tibetan nun missing for eight years after taking part in protests challenging Chinese rule may also have died in custody, Tibetan sources said.
Yudruk Nyima, aged about 40 and a resident of Dzakhok township in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Dege (Dege) county, was detained by police after returning from a trip to collect cordyceps, a valuable medicinal fungus, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“He was detained on suspicion of possessing a gun at his home in Dzakhok,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in his native Dege.
After being taken to a nearby village, Nyima was severely beaten by police who then tried to move him to the Dege county seat, the source said.
“However, he died on the way while still in police custody,” he said.
News of Nyima’s death was briefly delayed in reaching outside sources due to communications clampdowns imposed by Chinese authorities in the area.
Relatives rejected allegations that Nyima had owned a gun and have filed a complaint with local authorities over his death, the source said, adding that the case “has become a cause of tensions in the area.”
Family members of a young Tibetan nun detained in 2008 are meanwhile losing hope she may still be alive after receiving no word of her whereabouts since she was taken into custody, an India-based Tibetan rights group said this week.
Yeshe Lhakdron, a 25-year-old nun from Drakkar nunnery in Kardze prefecture’s Kardze county, was detained with two companions eight years ago after they called out in public for Tibetan freedom from Beijing’s rule, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said on Thursday.
“Following their interrogation in police custody during which they were subjected to beatings and torture, the nuns were sent to a government hospital in Kardze County,” TCHRD said, adding that family members were not allowed to visit the nuns during their treatment in hospital.
Nurses at the hospital later said that one of the nuns had died there, and the other two—named Sangye Lhamo and Tsewang Khandro—were eventually released after serving two-year terms in prison, TCHRD said.
“But [Yeshe] Lhakdron never returned home,” the rights group said.
Lacking firm evidence of Lhakdron’s death, family members “are still struggling” to come to a conclusion regarding her fate, but have now conducted funeral rites for her at various monasteries, TCHRD said.
Tibetans living in Kardze prefecture are known for their strong sense of Tibetan national identity and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.
Monasteries and nunneries in Kardze now operate under strict government controls and have been threatened with closure if they permit monks and nuns living there to engage in political activities, including unauthorized promotion of the study of the Tibetan language, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA.
“[Also], if any monk or nun comes from other places to protest, they will not be allowed to return to their own institutions, and those monasteries must not accept them back,” the source said.
“These rules may be aimed at containing expressions of solidarity and support among monks and nuns in monasteries in different parts of Tibet,” he said.
Reported by Pema Ngodup and Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.