Tibetan Protester Released Early From Prison in Critical Health
Gangbu Rikgye Nyima was freed after nine years of a 10-year prison term, but is in failing health due to torture suffered behind bars.
A Tibetan man serving a 10-year prison term for taking part in protests against Chinese rule was released in February one year before completing his sentence, but is in failing health after suffering beatings and torture in prison, Tibetan sources say.
Gangbu Rikgye Nyima, aged around 30, was freed on Feb. 25 in Draggo (Chinese, Luhuo) county in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Golok Jigme—a former political prisoner living in exile in Switzerland—told RFA this week.
“However, like other political prisoners [released before him], Nyima’s condition is very severe,” Jigme said, citing sources in the region.
Nyima and his cellmates, some of whom had been arrested with him in 2012, had repeatedly protested in prison, and were tortured many times by their guards, Jigme said.
“He was also put into a dark cell many times, as a result of which his vision is weak, and he suffers constantly from headaches. His lungs and spine are also in a bad state, and he is now mentally disturbed.”
Nyima was formerly employed in a hydropower station in Draggo county and was one of many Tibetans detained for peacefully protesting against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas at the time of the Tibetan New Year in Draggo and Serta (Seda) counties, Jigme said.
“Even though he was later sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Chinese government, he was released on Feb. 25 after completing only nine years of his sentence,” Jigme said, adding that police took Nyima directly to his home after completing the paperwork for his release, and that family members were warned by police not to come to the police station to receive him.
Tibetan political prisoners suffering ill health are sometimes freed in critical condition before the end of their terms, with at least seven reported during the last year to have died—either in prison or following their release—from injuries inflicted under torture in custody, sources say.
In a statement written by Nyima and obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service, Nyima greeted his family following his release, adding, “I will never forget for as long as I live how the Chinese government put me behind bars and tortured me on false charges, and tore away all my human rights.”
“Never forget what it means to be a Tibetan,” he said.
“Don’t be discouraged, remain united, and always study your language and your religion. We all must be free from this repression.”
Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, and the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world following the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
Reported by Sonam Lhamo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.