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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?"

China imprisons a former Tibetan prisoner for peaceful protest

February 12, 2018

Radio Free Asia, February 06, 2018 - A Tibetan man who vanished last month after staging a solitary protest in Tibet’s capital Lhasa has been found jailed in a county in eastern Tibet, where he may soon face charges for opposing Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, Tibetan sources said.

Lodroe Gyatso, also known as Sogkar Lodroe, disappeared on Jan. 28 after protesting in front of Lhasa’s Potala Palace and is now being held in custody in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in Tibet’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, a Tibetan source in exile told RFA.

“Chinese police detained him no more than four to five minutes after he began his protest, and he was taken to Sog county, his birthplace, the next day,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in the region.

“He is now being held in the Sog county prison, and it is likely he will soon be put on trial and charged,” the source said.

Gyatso had previously been jailed for more than 20 years for homicide and for engaging in political activism in prison, and was released in July 2016, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

In a video message recorded prior to his protest and obtained by RFA, Gyatso announced his plan to stage a protest calling for world peace on Jan. 28, describing his action as part of a long campaign of nonviolent Tibetan protests inspired by the teachings of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Convicted in 1991 of killing a man in a fight, Gyatso spent 21 years behind bars, with his original 15-year sentence extended for engaging in political activism while incarcerated. 

After being released under police supervision in May 2013, Gyatso criticized what he called Beijing’s “oppressive policies” and unequal treatment of Tibetans in some of the eastern counties of Tibet’s Nagchu prefecture, one source said.

He was also critical of local Chinese authorities’ insistence that Tibetans wear traditional clothing lined with fur, a practice discouraged by the Dalai Lama and abandoned by local Tibetans some time before, the source said.

Jailed again, Gyatso was beaten and tortured in detention, and was finally released from prison in July 2016 after vowing to other inmates that he would someday stage a peaceful protest in Lhasa after being freed.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

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