Tibetan Protester Returns Home After Five Years in Jail

Tibetan monks welcome activist Lhatsog as he returns home after five years in jail, in Chigdril county in Qinghai's Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, April 11, 2013.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Authorities in northwest China’s Qinghai province have released a Tibetan activist after he served five years of a six-year jail term for protesting against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, sources said.

The release follows the freeing in March of two other Tibetan activists, both of whom served 17-year terms and were let go in poor health after suffering ill-treatment and torture in prison.

Lhatsog, a resident of Lungkar village in Chigdril (in Chinese, Jiuzhi) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was released on Thursday after serving five years in jail, a Swiss-based Tibetan told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

Lhatsog had been sentenced to a six-year term for participating in protests during widespread challenges to Chinese rule in 2008, the source said, citing sources in the region. It was not immediately clear why he was freed before completing his full sentence.

“At the time he was released, several monks from nearby counties like Matoe, Pema, and Gade gathered to welcome him. They noticed that his legs were weak, and that he had difficulty walking,” he said.

Ready for death

At the time of his protest in 2008, Lhatsog had called for a peaceful resolution of Tibetan issues in advance of the Beijing Olympics, and he was prepared to admit his involvement when he was detained, the source said.

“He was determined to confess his participation in the Tibetan struggle for full independence and was ready to face death when he was detained,” RFA’s source said, adding, “He did not expect to be released.”

Lhatsog was accused of passing information about the protests to outside sources and of instigating others to protest, he said.

“He was thoroughly interrogated and tortured during the investigation,” he added.

Others released

Two other Tibetan activists also appeared weak or in poor health on being released last month after serving much longer prison sentences.   

On April 4, an India-based Tibetan rights group said Dawa Gyaltsen, believed to be about 47, was released in poor health sometime in March after completing 17 years of an 18-year term.

He was jailed for distributing “political documents” and spent the major part of his sentence in Chushul Prison, “where incarceration means brutal mistreatment and torture of political prisoners,” the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said in a statement.

Another Tibetan activist, Jigme Gyatso, 52, was freed on March 30 after serving 17 years in prison, according to a Tibetan source.

Gyatso, leader of the Tibetan Independence and Truth Group, was sentenced in 1996 to 15 years in prison on charges of being a “counterrevolutionary ringleader” and endangering national security.

Chinese authorities added two more years to his sentence in 2004 for “inciting separatism” when he called out in prison for the long life of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India’s Dharamsala hill town, sources said.

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


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