Tibetan Monk Released From Mianyang Prison After Seven-Year Jail Sentence


2015-04-06
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tibet-thinley-gyatso-apr5-2015.jpg Monk Thinley Gyatso (C) is greeted by well-wishers in Ngaba county, Ngaba prefecture, in southwest China's Sichuan province, April 5, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)

Updated at 12:40 P.M. EST on 2015-04-07

A Tibetan monk released from prison two days ago in southwestern China’s Sichuan province after serving a seven-year term for giving information to outside sources about regional unrest in 2008 has returned home, where 1,000 monks and laypeople openly welcomed him without police interference, according to a source in Tibet.

Thinley Gyatso, a monk from Togden monastery in Ngaba county, in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture, arrived back home on Sunday, a day after his release from Chinese-run Mianyang prison, said the Tibetan source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Gyatso was detained following the widespread unrest in Tibet in 2008 and accused of giving information to outside sources about the incidents, the source said.

That year, the annual observance of Tibetan Uprising Day resulted in street protests by monks, which drew in Tibetan civilians and turned into rioting, burning, looting of Han Chinese businesses, and killing by March 14. The riots and demonstrations began in the Tibetan regional capital Lhasa but spread to other areas and a number of monasteries, including ones outside the region.

The Chinese said the unrest was motivated by separatism and orchestrated by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, who laid the blame on widespread discontent among Tibetans.

“The Tibetans who welcomed him [Gyatso] carried traditional scarves and a banner reading: ‘Dark sentence for a white [innocent] person,’” the source said. “The crowd gathered recognized his sacrifice for Tibetan common affairs and applauded his affection for Tibetans for whom he stood up by spending seven years in prison.”

Gyatso, 37, hails from Ngamei Chuktsang village and is the oldest of six children born to Nyepei, his father, and Kunreg, his mother, the source said.

He had been arrested on April 4, 2008, by a group of Chinese police who raided the monastery when all the monks had assembled to pray, he said.

“It is very emotional when we see many old people with white scarves in their hands and tears in their eyes,” said another Tibetan who was at the scene where people gathered to greet Gyatso. “However, it is very important for us to be united and supportive. We hope a sun of happiness will shine under the blessing of the Dalai Lama.”

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin of RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to Mianyang prison as Miayang prison.

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