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Tibetan former political prisoner in failing health still watched by police

Geshe Tsewang Namgyal, a former monk, endured beatings in custody, a source says.

By Sangyal Kunchok


Geshe Tsewang Namgyal is shown in a photo following his release from prison in 2018.

Photo from Tibet

A Tibetan monk jailed for six years for taking part in Tibetan freedom protests is still being watched by police years after his release despite being crippled by beatings while in custody, Tibetan sources say.

Geshe Tsewang Namgyal, formerly a monk at the Draggo monastery in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was released in failing health on Jan. 24, 2018, and is now in critical condition, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA.

“He is succumbing to weak health due to the beatings he received in prison, and is now in critical condition with both his legs crippled,” RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the Draggo area and speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his sources.

Still closely monitored by Chinese police, Namgyal was arrested on Jan. 23, 2012, after taking part in a peaceful protest in Draggo against China’s rule that turned deadly when police fired into the crowd. Namgyal was later released from prison on several conditions, the source said.

“He was not allowed to return to Draggo monastery, could not take part in any gatherings or own a cell phone, could not describe his experiences in prison with anyone, and had to obtain permission from the police before traveling or seeking medical treatment in a hospital.”

Arrested with Namgyal during the protest in Draggo were the monastery’s accountant, Dralha, and Khenpo Tenga, a religious instructor. Both are now also in failing health, the source said.

“Dralha has lost his vision, and due to severe injuries to Khenpo Tenga’s head, he cannot hear and has difficulty sleeping,” the source said.

“But in spite of their deteriorating health, the Chinese government is constantly watching them and their daily activities, and they can’t obtain proper medical treatment for their injuries because they can’t afford it,” he said.

Wangden Kyab, a researcher at London-based Tibet Watch, criticized the excessive attention paid by police to the three former prisoners.

“Even after these Tibetan political prisoners had served their sentences and were released in failing health, the Chinese authorities are keeping an eye on them because they want to be sure they don’t engage in such activities again, and because they want to eventually wipe them out,” he said.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Tibetans living in Tibet and Tibetan areas of western China frequently complain of discrimination and human rights abuses, and say they fear Beijing is pursuing every more aggressive policies aimed at eradicating their national and cultural identity.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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