A former Tibetan political prisoner died at his home in China’s Sichuan province on Thursday after authorities repeatedly denied his requests to seek medical treatment for failing health resulting from harsh treatment in prison, Tibetan sources said.
Choekyi, who was also a monk, had served a four-year term in Sichuan’s Mianyang prison for making a T-shirt celebrating the 80th birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and was released on Jan. 18, 2019, sources living in exile said.
“During his detention, Chinese police severely tortured him, resulting in damage to his liver and kidneys,” one source said, citing local contacts and speaking on condition of anonymity.
The day after his June 19, 2015 arrest, Choekyi’s sister Kyidzom and her son Drakpa were taken into custody for questioning by police, another source said., adding “They were beaten during interrogation and were held for 15 days before they were let go.”
After being released to his home in Sichuan’s Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county, historically a part of eastern Tibet’s region of Kham, Choekyi began to petition authorities for permission to travel, but was repeatedly refused, one source said.
“And even though his family could pay his medical expenses, the authorities did not allow him taccess to inpatient services at local hospitals before he passed away,” the source said.
“The patient was advised to go to Lhasa to seek medical treatment in a hospital, and the monk Choekyi was very willing to make the journey, but the authorities would not give him permission to go,” added another source, speaking from Tibet.
On April 29, Tibetan writer and former political prisoner Jetsang Takmik visited Choekyi at his home in Serthar’s Nyitoe village and found him in rapidly failing health, Dorjee Tsering—a Tibetan researcher living in Australia—said, citing an article by Jetsang Takmik describing their meeting.
“He was frail, and uttering even a word had become too difficult for him,” Tsering said, quoting Takmik’s written account.
“Choekyi’s family have now arranged for a memorial service for him according to tradition and the customs of the local people,” former political prisoner Golog Jigme told RFA, citing local sources and speaking from exile in Switzerland.
Reported by Lobe Soktsang and Kalden Lodoe for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.