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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

New images show Tibetan nomad's arrest after call for Dalai Lama to come home

September 30, 2010

Tibetan political prisoners in Mianyang
ICT Report
International Campaign for Tibet
September 28, 2010

New images have been obtained by ICT of the
moment when a Tibetan nomad, Ronggye Adrag, was
arrested after making a statement in support of
the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of
thousands (images can be viewed at
http://savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/new-images-show-tibetan-nomads-arrest-after-call-dalai-lama-come-home-tibetan-political-pr).
The photographs, taken by a foreigner who
requested anonymity, capture the moments after
Ronggye Adrag stepped down from the stage on
August 1, 2007, and was seized by plain-clothes
security. Ronggye Adrag was sentenced to eight
years in prison and is being held in Mianyang prison in Sichuan.

The photographs, taken three seconds apart,
portray a scene of swift intimidation rarely seen
by observers outside Tibet. They illustrate how a
civil expression of a point of view can be judged
by the Chinese authorities as a "crime" that can
endanger the security of the state. Ronggye
Adrag's peaceful statement that day were a
precursor to the wave of protests against Chinese
government policy and in support of the Dalai
Lama that swept across Tibet from March, 2008,
transforming the political landscape in Tibet.

Subtitled footage of Ronggye Adrag's protest at
the Lithang Horse Festival in Kham, eastern Tibet
(present-day Sichuan province) was made public by
ICT and can be viewed at
http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/bold-public-expression-support-dalai-lama-led-imprisonment-tibetan-captured-video.


Ronggye Adrag, a 56-year-old Tibetan nomad, had
taken the microphone during the opening ceremony,
attended by military and other dignitaries. The
English translation of the few seconds featured
in footage obtained by ICT is as follows:
"...These things have happened to us; did you
hear what has happened to us? Although we can
move our bodies, we cannot express what is in our
hearts. You know? These days there are those who
say we don't need the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama
is the one that we six million Tibetans truly
[need]." Sources who witnessed the incident
report that Ronggye Adrag also called for the
Dalai Lama to return home to Tibet. An eyewitness
said: "I saw him walk onto the stage, which was
full of Chinese military and officials. He was
very calm, very dignified and he spoke clearly. I
couldn't understand what he was saying because I
don't know the Kham dialect, but I could see
Tibetans around me shaking their heads in
sadness, because they were fearful for him, and
others openly agreeing with him."

The new images show Ronggye Adrag in the centre
of a crowd of uniformed and plain clothes police
and ordinary Tibetans, with a backdrop of a
Tibetan marquee and red Communist Party flags. He
has been grabbed by a man in a white shirt with a
black armband, who could be either plainclothes
police or a type of citizen monitor, responsible
for maintaining public order. The images seem to
depict him translating for a Chinese plainclothes
security official. A Tibetan policeman, cap
askew, has placed his hand on the shoulder of the
man in the white shirt almost as if to restrain
him. The intense expressions on the faces of
Tibetans in the crowd around Ronggye Adrag,
including monks and young children, are
indicative of an understanding about what is happening.

Soon after the images were taken, Ronggye Adrag
was taken into custody. In response, local
Tibetans and nomads in the area crowded into the
courtyard of the police station to protest his
detention before being dispersed by police.
Several days afterwards, Tibetans encamped
outside the town were dispersed by riot police
using tear-gas and firing guns into the air
(images were provided to ICT by a visitor to the
area, see ICT report at
http://savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/new-images-confirm-dispersal-tibetans-armed-police-after-lithang-protest-Ronggye-Adrags-rel).

There are fears for Ronggye Adrag's health and
that of his nephew Adrag Lopoe, a senior monk
from Lithang sentenced to ten years, and Tibetan
art teacher and musician Kunkhyen, sentenced to
nine years, both for attempting to provide
pictures and information about the protest to
'overseas organizations' which were judged to
'endanger national security'. Ronggye Adrag's
family has only been able to visit him once in
the past three years, according to the
International Support Network
(http://www.freetibetanheroes.org/home.php/profiles/Ronggye-Adrag).

Following their sentencing, Ronggye Adrag and
Adrag Lopoe were held at an undisclosed location
in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county in Sichuan
province. According to reports from Tibetans in
touch with others in the area, Ronggye Adrag is
now being held in Mianyang prison, located in
Wujia Township in Mianyang Prefecture around
100km (62 miles) northeast of Chengdu, and which
according to reliable sources uses prisoners to
work its affiliated Xinkang Asbestos Mine. Lupoe
may also be held in Mianyang, and another nephew
of Ronggye Adrag, Adrag Kalgyam, sentenced to
five years soon after his uncle, may be
imprisoned in Mianyang too, although that could not be confirmed.

Adrag Kalgyam was detained on October 3, 2007,
two months after his uncle was detained at the
horse festival. According to information
published by the UK-based Free Tibet
organization, Adrag Kalgyam was detained after he
shouted "Long live His Holiness [the Dalai Lama]"
and "We want His Holiness to return to Tibet"
during a "patriotic education" session in his
home area of Lithang on October 2, 2007. The
authorities were prevented by local people from
detaining him at the meeting itself, according to
the same sources, but he was arrested the next
day. Adrag Kalgyam was sentenced to five years in
prison for "splittism" according to the same Tibetan sources.

Twenty-seven year old Adrag Kalgyam, from Kashul
Village in Lithang county, is the youngest of
seven brothers and is married with two daughters.
He had studied in Drepung monastery in South
India for three years before returning to Tibet in 2001.

Respected Tibetan teacher Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche
also held in Mianyang Prison The respected and
popular religious teacher Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche,
detained in 2002, is also imprisoned in Mianyang
prison in Mianyang, Sichuan province, according
to reliable reports from Tibetans in contact with
people in the area. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche whose
life sentence was later reduced to a fixed term
of 20 years - was transferred to Mianyang from
Chuandong prison, and is reported to be in poor
health. He is currently suffering from high blood
pressure, heart disease and problems with his
legs. Though he is apparently receiving medical
treatment he has been denied Tibetan medicine
that he has requested. (See ITSN report,
http://www.freetibetanheroes.org). There have
been ongoing protests and high tension in
Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) and Lithang
(Chinese: Litang) counties, which neighbor Kardze
(Chinese: Ganzi) county to the south, due to the
continued imprisonment of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche.
He oversaw a religious revival among the
communities in his area, and also established
schools, old people's homes and religious
institutions while advocating close and
cooperative community ties with local authorities.

Since at least May 2007, thousands of people in
Nyagchuka county and beyond have signed petitions
in support of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. Security has
been stepped up in his home area in the Tibetan
area of Kham, part of present-day Sichuan
province, and dozens of Tibetans were detained
and beaten in the area in December, 2009, after
peaceful demonstrations calling for his retrial
and release. Increased numbers of armed police
and troops have been stationed in towns and
villages where protests occurred - in an area
that is already tense since demonstrations
against Chinese rule spread across Tibet in March
2008. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche has told visitors
that he has never admitted to any of the crimes
he was accused of committing, and was wrongly accused and imprisoned.

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
Email: press@savetibet.org
Tel: +44 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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