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Five Tibetan escapees speak on torture, death & repression in Tibet

May 23, 2009

Tibet Custom
May 20, 2009
   
Dharamshala -- Since 10 March 2008 the Tibetan
people living inside Tibet expressed their strong
indignation and pent-up resentment in the form of
peaceful protests throughout Tibet against the
wrong policies of the People's Republic of China
(PRC). The Tibetans call for respect of human
rights and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
to Tibet was brutally suppressed by the Chinese
authorities leading to deaths of more than 220
Tibetans and 1,294 seriously injured. Over 5,600
were arrested, 290 sentenced and more than 1,000 have simply disappeared.

Five Tibetan monks of Labrang monastery with
indomitable courage and sincerity participated in
the peaceful protests in Sangchu County in
Tsongon (Ch: Kanlho Tibet Autonomous Prefecture,
incorporated into China's Gansu Province). The
five Tibetans are Gedun Gyatso, Kelsang Jinpa,
Jamyang Jinpa, Losang Gyatso and Jigme Gyatso.

Gedun Gyatso and Kelsang Jinpa took the leading
role in organising peaceful protests in Sangchu
County in Labrang on 14 March 2008.

On 9 April 2008, Jamyang Jinpa, Losang Gyatso and
Jigme Gyatso spoke openly in front of a visiting
international media exposing the repressive
policies initiated by the Chinese authorities in
Tibet and the state of Tibetans living under
constant fear and intimidation. They heard the
news of visit by foreign journalists through the
Amdo dialect programme of Radio Free Asia (RFA).

They went through great ordeal by spending the
past one-year hiding in deep pits, jungles and
valleys, but finally managed to escape torture and death by coming into exile.

According to their testimonials, the peaceful
protest in Tibet is an expression of Tibetan
people's deep-seated resentment and concern about
the repressive policies of the Chinese government
in Tibet during the last 50 years. The existence
of Tibetan as a nationality is on the verge of
extinction due to large influx of Chinese
migrants into Tibet. Contrary to the Chinese
government's rhetoric of development, the living
conditions of Tibetans still remain poor and
marginalised, particularly in the rural areas of Tibet.

The Tibetan language has been marginalised
despite the provision to preserve and
implementation of the Tibetan as the primary
language as enshrined in the PRC Constitution.

  In terms of human rights and civil liberties,
the Chinese Constitution guarantees many rights
and freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom
of opinion, freedom of religious belief and
practice etc but these are not implemented on the
ground. When Tibetans exercise their basic rights
and freedom, they are arrested and tortured.

Under the rule of People's Republic of China,
repressive policies led to deaths of one million
Tibetans and destruction of every aspect of
Tibetan civilization, including Tibet's unique
identity, culture, tradition and religion.
Therefore, the resentment against the Chinese
government is deeply rooted in Tibetan people's mind.

The Chinese government's rejection of the
Middle-Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibet issue increased
the Tibetan people's growing frustration leading to the peaceful protest.

The Tibetan people have deep-seated resentment
against the campaigns such as patriotic re-
education sessions initiated by the Chinese
authorities of denouncing His Holiness the Dalai
Lama. In their hearts, the Tibetan people
consider His Holiness the Dalai Lama as sun and
moon, and the faith in His Holiness can never be
destroyed by the Chinese government.

The PRC government distorted facts and levelled
baseless allegations against the His Holiness the
Dalai Lama and his supporters for instigating
violence in Tibet last year. In order to counter
China's propaganda, the Tibetans voluntarily
initiated peaceful protests to tell the truth
based on principles of non-violence and dialogue
espoused by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Tibetans have hard feelings and resentment
against China's failed Tibet policies, their
misrule in Tibet and their mistreatment of
Tibetans. The Chinese authorities' brutal
crackdown of Tibetans during their peaceful
protests made them determined to express the true
feelings in front of the visiting foreign
journalists in Labrang monastery on 9 April 2008.
Having witnessed torture, arrest and imprisonment
of Tibetans and the Tibetan areas overwhelmed
with the presence and vigilance of armed police
and security personnel, it became imperative to
let the international community know the actual situation inside Tibet.

It is important that the international community
support human rights of Tibetans. All the nations
that uphold peace and democracy have been working
to better human rights all around the world. But
the naming and shaming alone of China is not
effective. There should be special focus and
emphasis on human rights situation inside Tibet.
United Nations is an international body where
people all over the world repose their faith and
trust. It is important that the UN considers the
Tibet issue and investigates the cases of deaths
of Tibetans since 1959 and especially those
killed, arrested and missing during peaceful
protests in 2008. In freedom struggle movement,
it is inevitable that human lives are sacrificed.
But in the eyes of Chinese government, there is no value for human lives.

The five Tibetan escapees express their strong
commitment to support the Tibetan people living
in Tibet in their peaceful struggle towards resolving the just cause of Tibet.

Details of the five monks are as follows:

Name, Age, Place of Birth, Details

Kelsang Jinpa, 39,  Sangkho township, Nakthu
village, Sangchu County (Ch: Xiahe), Labrang Monastery

Voluntarily engaged and initiated the peaceful
protest in Labrang on 14 March 2008

Gedun Gyatso, 37 Sangkho township, Nakthu
village, Sangchu County (Ch: Xiahe) Labrang Monastery

Voluntarily engaged and initiated the peaceful
protest in Labrang on 14 March 2008

Jigme Gyatso, 22, Bachu township, Takyari
village, Badzong County, Labrang Monastery,
Tsognon (Ch: Qinhhai) Province, Tsolho Prefecture

Protested in front of visiting foreign journalist in Labrang on 9 April 2008

Jamyang Jinpa, 24, Sangkho township, Ngura
village, Sangchu County, Labrang monastery

Protested infront of visiting foreign journalist in Labrang on 9 April 2008

Lobsang Gyatso, 24
Vesi village, Khesin township, Yulgan County,
Malho Prefecture, Qinghai Province

Protested infront of visiting foreign journalist in Labrang on 9 April 2008

Testimony of Labrang Monks

Jamyang Jinpa

Due to influx of Chinese population inside Tibet,
Tibetans are reduced to a minority group in their
own land. Tibet witnessed infrastructure
development but its main beneficiaries are the
Chinese immigrants. Contrary to Chinese rhetoric
of development, the living conditions of Tibetans
in the marginalised and remote areas of Tibet still remain the same.

In terms of human rights and civil liberties,
Chinese Constitution guarantees many rights and
freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of
opinion, freedom of religious belief and practice
etc but these are not implemented on the ground.
When Tibetans exercise their basic rights and
freedom, they are ostracized and tortured.

Tibetans have hard feelings and resentment
against China's failed Tibet policies, their
misrule in Tibet and their mistreatment of
Tibetans. We are no political activists. We are
just monks. But when political protests broke out
in Tibet in March 2008 and subsequently engulfed
the whole of Tibet, the Chinese authorities
brutally crushed down the protests. When we saw
the Chinese suppression of Tibetan
demonstrations, we became determined to express
our true feelings in front of the foreign journalists.

We witnessed torture, arrest and imprisonment of
Tibetans. The Tibetan areas have been overwhelmed
with the presence and vigilance of armed police
and security personnel. We wanted the
international community to know the actual
situation inside Tibet. So, we spoke in front of the foreign journalists.

Jamyang Jinpa recounts:

"I went to the prayer session in Labrang
Monastery but could not concentrate on my
Buddhist sessions. I always think about how to
share the true situation inside Tibet. Our
protest was not organized by underground
organizations but it was totally spontaneous. We
were a group of monks who trust each other. We
heard the news of impending visit by foreign
journalists through the Amdo dialect programme of
RFA, but we could not get detailed information on them.

The PRC government knows that Tibetans protested
against their policies, misrule and prevailing
human rights violations in Tibet. But the Chinese
government indulged in lots of distortion and
misinterpretation of the protests. They distort
truth and even forge some films of the protests.
Unable to bear such lies, we expressed the truth
based on the guidelines of non-violence as
espoused by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Buddhism
is the heart and light of Tibetan culture.

China considers violence as a solution to settle
the Tibetan issue. I think it is not the solution
and this is proved by the 2008 protests. Chinese
government cannot control the mind of the
Tibetans and their sufferings are inscribed in their hearts.

Lobsang Gyatso

I tolerated Chinese mistreatment before. There
were many issues, which were unfair and unjust.
At that time, I had no courage to speak out. I
had tolerated for a long time and it reached a
breaking point.  I expressed my feelings in a
non-violent way and struggled for my freedom.

On the evening of 8 April 2008, we hid Tibetan
flags in a secret place. We gathered together,
wrote slogans and could not sleep. Next morning,
we prayed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the
success of our mission. We went separately to the
prayer session at Labrang Monastery and saw huge
number of police dressed in civilian clothes. It
led to the suspicion that journalists might come. We watched carefully.

During tea break, we came out of the assembly
hall and saw people come out of cars. We saw
foreigners and it immediately confirmed our
suspicion that they were a group of foreign
journalists. We immediately protested in front of
them. Soon after, other monks joined the protest.

We protested and the plainclothes police did not
arrest us. We went inside the monastery along
with the journalists. After the assembly was
over, we went separately to different monk's
room. We had no idea to escape. When we came back
from the meeting, we decided it was not good to
get arrested. It was not possible to escape that
night as the monastery was surrounded by army.

On the night of 10 April 2008, I managed to come
out of the monastery and walked towards the
nearby nomadic area and stayed with a nomadic
family. I was very cautious about getting
arrested.  I spent one night in a deep pit. I hid
and escaped from police like a wild animal. Only
few of the relatives and family members knew about our whereabouts.

After the protests in Labrang, drivers and
visitors to the area were checked for their
identification. There was no incident of
crackdown on the first day of protest as the
Chinese authorities seemed unprepared for the
protest. The Tibetans protested and dispersed the
first day. Next day, tear gas was thrown at the
protesting crowd causing several injuries.

It is important that the international community
support human rights of Tibetans. All the nations
that uphold peace and democracy have been working
to better human rights all around the world. But
only engaging in naming and shaming of China is
not effective. There should be special focus and
emphasis on promotion and protection of human
rights and fundamental freedom of the Tibetans inside Tibet.

The United Nation is an international body where
people from all over the world repose their faith
and trust. It is important that the UN take up
the Tibet issue and investigate the cases of
deaths of Tibetans since 1959 and especially of
the events, nature and course of  the 2008
protests. In freedom struggle movements, it is
inevitable that human lives are sacrificed. But
in the eyes of Chinese government, there is no value for human lives.

Reasons for Protest
Kelsang Jinpa and Gedhun Gyato voluntarily
engaged and initiated the political protest in Labrang area on 14 March 2008.

"We are monks. There is no freedom of religion.
The photo of our root guru, His Holiness the
Dalai Lama is banned, and we are forced to
denounce him. He has been living in exile for the
past many decades. The Chinese authorities impose
limitation on the monastic populace and place
restrictions on religious activities and practice.

Since the invasion and occupation of Tibet by
China, massive human rights violation has taken
place. Destruction was caused both to Tibetan
lives and their property. China had exterminated
1 million Tibetans out of the 6 million Tibetans.
Based on our experiences, our resentment against
the Chinese government is rooted in our mind.
There is absence of freedom of expression. We
Tibetans are arrested for merely exercising our freedom of expression.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has proposed a
mutually beneficial solution of genuine autonomy
to resolve the Tibet issue. However, the
Sino-Tibetan dialogue is currently deadlocked and
the Chinese side has not responded positively to
the proposal put forward by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama. We Tibetans are unable to tolerate
such intransigent attitude of the Beijing
leadership and this was also one of the reasons why we protested.

With the influx of Chinese population into Tibet,
the main beneficiaries of China's development in
Tibet has been the Chinese immigrants. Tibetans
are marginalised in their own land. Despite
guarantees of preservation of Tibetan language
and its use in the PRC Constitution, the Chinese
language has become the main language in
administration and commerce in Tibet thereby sidelining the Tibetan language.

Anti- Dalai Lama Campaign
In the minds of the Tibetan people, His Holiness
the Dalai Lama is like the sun and moon of the
Tibetan people. The Chinese authorities can never
exterminate our faith in HH the Dalai Lama and
they will never succeed in changing and
controlling Tibetan minds through development,
political indoctrination and brutality.
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