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81[ineb] TCHRD Press Release

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  • Lobsang Nyandak, Director TCHRD Dsala
    Dec 19, 1999
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      Press Release
      December 20, 1999
      Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy

      Increase in the sentence of eight Political Prisoners
      Two Political Prisoners Missing

      Dharamsala TCHRD (20/12/99): Information emanating from sources within
      Tibet indicate that the sentence of eight Tibetan political prisoners has
      been extended as a result of the protests by prisoners in Drapchi Prison on
      May 1 and May 4, 1998 and two prisoners are missing since the protests.

      The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has received confirmed
      information that the China's Intermediate People's Court of Lhasa has
      increased the sentences of eight Drapchi political prisoners: Ngawang
      Sangdrol, Phuntsok Rigchog, Ngawang Ngonkyen, Lhasang, Passang, Norbu
      Phuntsok, Wangdu and Chokyi Wangmo in October 1998.

      Information from Tibet also indicates that two political prisoners Lobsang
      Lungtok and Phuntsok Wangchuk are missing since July 1998 from their prison
      cell in Drapchi Unit 5. Chinese authorities held both of them in
      incommunicado detention for more than 14 months after they participated in
      the May 1 and 4 protests in Drapchi Prison in 1998. Phuntsok Wangdu is 23
      years old former Middle School student from Tsethang villlage in Nedong
      County and origin is from Chongyas village in Lhoka Prefecture. Wangdu was
      arrested in June 1994 for pasting posters around the town and was sentenced
      to five years. Lungtok, 26 years old monk from Gaden Monastery, is
      resident of Nyangdren town. He was arrested on March 20, 1992 and was
      sentenced to seven years. Their current whereabouts are not known.

      In a horrific display of power in May 1998, Chinese authorities opened fire
      at prisoners during a peaceful demonstration in Drapchi Prison. On May 1,
      all the prisoners of the Prison were taken to a flag hoisting ceremony to
      commemorate the International Labour Day. A total of 900 prisoners were
      assembled. The prisoners were made to sing song in praise of socialism and
      Chinese national anthem. While the Chinese flag was being hoisted a
      non-political prisoner removed a bunch of political leaflets and threw them
      at the crowd. This was followed by raising of slogans by political
      prisoners, leading to a disruption of the ceremony.

      On May 4, 1998 a similar function was organised to commemorate "Youth Day."
      The flag hoisting was disrupted by a monk name Lobsang Geleg who started
      shouting independence slogans. The people's Armed Police (PAP) then pushed
      everyone back to their cells. Some of the other prisoners who heard the
      shouting started shouting and kicking the gates. A prison guard opened
      fire and Ngawang Sungrab was shot.

      Five months after the incidence, Chinese authorities did admit that a
      shooting had occurred but the prison guards "fired guns into the air." Ten
      deaths were reported as a result of the protests in Drapchi Prison. Two of
      them were shot dead and eight others were tortured to death for taking part
      in the demonstrations. At least 60 prisoners had sustained severe
      injuries. Many were severely tortured following the demonstrations. A
      former Drapchi prisoner, who was present at the time of the incidents
      reported, "On the evening of same day, 12 prison guards entered each cell
      and mercilessly beat the prisoners. Ngawang Dorjee (22) and Dawa (23) were
      taken out of their cells and tortured for two hours. Later the 12 prison
      guards pounced on Thupten Kalsang (25), a monk of Phenpo Gonsar Monastery,
      and beat him for half an hour. The next morning, he was again taken out of
      his cell and tortured severely. When he returned he was leaning against
      the wall while walking. Prisoners were not allowed to assist him. He was
      later released on medical parole and at present he is in a critical health
      condition at his residence."

      The following political prisoners' sentences were prolonged by China's
      Intermediate People's Court in October 1998 for taking part in the two
      demonstrations.

      Ngawang Sangdrol, who was serving 17 years imprisonment, had her sentence
      extended for the third time, bringing her total sentence to 21 years. She
      is the longest serving female political prisoner in Tibet. Her sentence
      was increased by four years in October 1998. Sangdrol's prison sentence had
      previously been prolonged by the Intermediate Municipal Court of Lhasa in
      October 1993 and July 1996. Born in 1977, Ngawang Sangdrol, now 22
      year-old was from Garu Nunnery. She was first arrested when she was only
      ten years old in 1987 for participating in a demonstration and was detained
      for 15 days. On August 28, 1990, at the age of 13, she again joined a
      demonstration and detained for nine months without charge. Her current
      sentence begins from June 17, 1992 when she was sentenced to three years
      for attempting to stage a demonstration in Lhasa along with other nuns from
      Garu Nunnery.

      Phuntsok Rigchog, layname Migmar, is a 37 year-old monk of Tashi Gang
      Monastery in Nyethang Town, Chushul County in Lhasa Municipality. On May
      31, 1994, Rigchog and six other monks from the same monastery were arrested
      for participating in a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in the
      Barkhor area of Lhasa City. The monks were detained in Gutsa Detention
      Centre until their sentences were passed. On November 12, 1994, the
      Intermediate People's Court of Lhasa sentenced Rigchog to six years
      imprisonment. After the sentence, he was transferred to Drapchi Prison.
      His sentence has been increased by an additional four years after his
      participation in the May 1998 Drapchi protests. He is serving a total
      sentence of 10 years and is expected to be released in 2004.

      Ngawang Ngonkyen, lay name Kalsang Phuntsok, is a 24 year-old monk of Tashi
      Gang Monastery. Ngonkyen was arrested in February 1994, after taking part
      in a peaceful demonstration in Barkhor, Lhasa City. He was detained in
      Gutsa Detention Centre for a year and ten months before being sentenced to
      six years imprisonment in January 1996 by the Intermediate People's Court
      of Lhasa. After his sentence he was transferred to Drapchi Prison. In May
      1998, he participated in the Drapchi Prison protests and had his sentence
      increased an addition four years. Ngonkyen's sentence totals ten years.

      Lhasang, a 23 year-old monk from Phenpo Gonsar Monastery, received an extra
      sentence of four years. He was originally sentenced to five years for
      political reasons in 1995. He is presently in Drapchi Prison serving a
      total sentence of nine years.

      Passang, a 22 year-old monk of Taglung Monastery in Phenpo Lhundrup County,
      was originally sentenced to five years imprisonment on political grounds in
      1995. Passang had his sentence extended by an additional three years
      following the Drapchi Prison protests brining his total sentence to eight
      years.

      Norbu Phuntsok, 22 years old, from Taglung Monastery in Phenpo Lhundrup
      County, had his sentence increased by an additional three years in October
      1998 for his involvement in the Drapchi Prison protests. He was first
      arrested on political grounds and sentenced to five years imprisonment in
      1995. Phuntsok is currently serving a total sentence of eight years.

      Wangdu, a 24 year-old monk of Dechen Sa-ngak Monastery in Taktse County,
      was originally arrested in December 1994 on political suspicions. He was
      sentenced to four years imprisonment. Wangdu's sentence was prolonged by
      an additional four years for his involvement in the Drapchi Prison
      protests. He is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Drapchi Prison.

      Chokyi Wangmo, a 23 year-old nun of Sharbumba Nunnery in Phenpo Lhundrup
      County had her prison sentence increased to an additional one and a half
      years. She was originally sentenced to five years in 1993 for taking part
      in a peaceful demonstration in Lhasa City. She is now serving a sentence
      of six and a half years in Drapchi Prison.

      -end-
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