[ineb] Press Release on Ngawang Jinpa
- Press Release
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
September 8, 1999
Ngawang Jinpa Dies After Repeated Beatings
Ngawang Jinpa, also known as Lobsang Dawa, a Ganden Monastery monk who was
imprisoned in Drapchi, died in Phenpo County, his hometown, on May 20,
1999. He was 31 years old when he died.
Ngawang's health first began to deteriorate after he was arrested for
participating in protest at Ganden Monastery on May 6, 1996. After his
arrest, he was detained at Gutsa Detention Centre for 8 months where he was
severely beaten. According to Legshey Drugdak, a Nalanda monk from Phenpo
County, who shared a prison cell with Ngawang reported that he arrived in
Drapchi Prison in a very weak condition. Despite this, the prison officials
continued to torture him and forced him to work. Legshey was released in
January 1998 after spending 3 years in Drapchi Prison.
In March 1999, Ngawang's health grew so poor, that the Chinese authorities
took him to "Tibet Autonomous Region" (TAR) Military Hospital near Sera
Monastery, where he was diagnosed with brain damage. The doctors extracted
fluid from his spine, a painful procedure that is performed to treat raised
intra-cranial pressure, a condition that can result from repeated blows on
the head. Ngawang's condition was so hopeless, that the Chinese
authorities released him on medical parole on March 14, 1999.
Ngawang, along with some 43 monks, was arrested on May 7, 1996 during a
raid conducted by Chinese authorities at Ganden Monastery. The raid took
place the day after hundreds of monks threw out a team of Chinese officials
who had instructed the monks to take down pictures of the Dalai Lama on
display in the monastery. They claimed that possession of the Dalai Lama's
photo signified "an irreligious and anti-Buddhist act with a political
objective of splitting the motherland and against the patriotism." In the
morning of May 7, Chinese soldiers fired warning shots with automatic
weapons and reportedly shot 5 monks, which resulted in the death of one
monk called Kelsang Nyendrak and severe injuries to the others.
Upon their arrests, the Ganden monks, including Ngawang Jinpa, were
detained at Gutsa Detention Centre where they were reportedly beaten and
tortured. The Chinese intermittently released some monks over the next few
months and subsequently expelled them from the monastery. In January 1997,
25 Ganden monks were tried by the Lhasa Intermediate People's Court and
sentenced anywhere from 1 to 15 years.
The Court sentenced Ngawang Jinpa to 12 years in Drapchi Prison and
deprived him of his political rights for four years on the charge of having
participated in "counter-revolutionary" activities. He was released on
medical parole after serving almost 3 years in prison and died only two
months after his release.
Gaden monks who are still serving prison sentences include: Bagdro, Po-lhoe
and Jampa Tenkyong, sentenced to 15 years; Passang Tsegyal, Penpa, Yonten
Gyalpo, Kunchok Dhondup and Khedrup, sentenced to 12 years; A-Tsak, Lobsang
Wangchuk, Tsering Bhagdro and Tasang, sentenced to 10 years; Jampa Thaye
and Sonam Tsering, sentenced to 5 years; Lhaksam Gyaltsen, Penpa and
Tsultrim Gyaltsen, sentenced to 3 years.
Ngawang began his education at the age of seven at the Langdhar Town Public
School. He left the school in 1987 to become a monk at Ganden Monastery.
When he joined the monastery at the age of 19, his layname, Lobsang Dawa,
was replaced with his religious name, Ngawang Jinpa. At Ganden, he worked
as a shopkeeper from 1987 to 1993 and from 1994 to 1996 he was a student of
He is survived by his father, Dorjee and his mother, Kalsang Dolma, who are
farmers in Phenpo County.
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