Release Choeying Khendrub

Choeying Khedrub is one of two Tibetan political prisoners serving a life sentence. He is charged with “splittist” activities for distributing pro-independence leaflets within Tibet. Any appeals made to the Chinese court have been rejected, committing him to a lifetime of imprisonment. Choeying’s case demonstrates the severe lack of democracy existing within China today. Tibetans cannot even enjoy the freedom of distributing leaflets on the streets within their own country.

Please make your voice heard and support Choeying Khedrub’s release by signing the electronic petition below that will be sent to the members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, United Nations. We are asking them to report on Choeying Khedrub’s case and to pressure China for his immediate release.

Choeying was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 – this was confirmed by documents obtained from the Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Court in 2006.

TWA 2006 Women Uprising Day Statement

March 12, 2006: Today, as we commemorate the 47th anniversary of theTibetan Women’s Uprising day, I would like to call upon my fellow sisters the world over to pay our deep homage to those brave women who lost their lives on this day in 1959 for the cause of Tibet. Let us also honor their memory with our pledge to carry on the struggle ever more resolutely with renewed strength and dedication.

The Re-founding of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) on 10th September 1984, was a history in itself. Today we have 47 regional chapters with over 13,000 members outside of Tibet. Initially, the main objective of TWA was for the restoration of Tibet’s independence. However, the stand underwent change in March 1997, when members of TWA unanimously resolved to follow the wisdom and pragmatic efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his Middle Path Approach in resolving the issue of Tibet with the People’s Republic of China.

Thus, TWA not only welcomed the renewed contact with China in 2002, but also fully respected the need for maintaining conducive environment for a meaningful dialogue. Accordingly, TWA’s efforts to mobilize all possible support, both internationally and in India, our campaigns emphasized to bring pressure on Beijing for unconditional dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For example, the All India Peace March organized by TWA last year was one such event to call on the Chinese leadership for direct talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama without any further delay.

Although five rounds of talks have taken place between the special envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese side since renewal of contact, sadly, nothing substantive has come out as yet from the protracted talks. The continued lack of religious freedom and freedom of expression, rampant arbitrary imprisonment and the execution of influential religious leaders as well as the continued imprisonment of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Pachen Lama of Tibet, Tulku Tenzin Delek, Geshe Sonam Phuntsok, Lobsang Tenzin and numerous other political prisoners, all speak volumes for the serious Human Rights violations within Tibet. The recent incident of ‘Patriotic Re-education’ in Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa, led to the mysterious death of a monk in his room and removable of four monks from the monastery. Monks and Nuns were sentenced for a term of one to three years imprisonment for merely expressing their doubts over the legitimacy of holding Olympic 2008 in Beijing due to poor Human Rights record.

With the ongoing western development project and the railway line to Tibet nearing completion, all at the initiative of Beijing, Tibet and her people are driven ever closer to becoming endangered species on this earth. Faced with such serious threat, it hardly need any calling for Tibetans all over the world to be ever more resolutely united under the enlightened leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in complete solidarity with the ‘Middle Path’ approach. At the same time, we would like to call on the Chinese leadership to address our guniune legitimate concerns with due seriousness for a speedy and substantive progress at the negotiating table before patience run out. Just as we respect the need for observing conducive environment, we expect reciprocal response from China as well. We demand the PRC government to respect the resolution of United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that an independent body must be given access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet.

TWA as a major force in the exile community will continue with our ongoing efforts to create awareness about the plight of Tibetans, in general, and human rights violation issues faced in Tibet by Tibetan women, in particular, at the international forums. It will be our focused aim to mobilize all possible support internationally at every opportunity to pressurize Beijing for an unconditional dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for it is also in the interest of Beijing.

Last but not the least, while we express our gratitude for all your past help, we appeal to governments and Tibet support groups around the globe for your continued wholehearted support to the peace initiatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Tibet. He alone is truly both the hope and solution to the issue of Tibet.

With affirmation of our full faith in the supreme enlightened leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and prayers for His long life; may the people of Tibet be soon reunited in Tibet!

The Drapchi 14 speak out


Two former Tibetan nuns and political prisoners, Gyaltsen Drolkar and Namdrol Llamo, completed a series of talks held across the UK about their prison ordeal for Tibet’s freedom and independence.

The duo were members of the ‘Drapchi 14’, singing nuns who were arrested and punished further in 1993 for expressing their support for Tibetan independence through song after secretly smuggling in a tape recorder into Drapchi Prison.

Drolkar and Llamo, each spent 11 and 12 years respectively, imprisoned for peaceful protests in Lhasa. After their arrests both were held in the Gutsa Dentation Centre for months and subject to interrogations through torture before being transferred to the infamous Drapchi Prison.

Following their speech, both made direct and passionate appeals to the people to Tibet and fellow supporters for freedom, they said: “What you have done in the past, you and Tibet supporters everywhere, has already borne good results in Tibet…I am certain that if you continue the way you have done, we will be able to achieve our aims.”
Of the ‘Drapchi 14’, one passed away in custody following years of abuse, seven remain in Tibet and six are now living in exile, both Drolkar and Llamo currently reside in Belgium.

Their efforts and struggle was not without a success as their message for freedom found its way out of prison and into the world, their songs made in a CD titled ‘Seeing Nothing but the Sky’, here is an example of their work titled ‘Song of Sadness’:

We’ve sung a song of sadness
We’ve sung it from Drapchi prison
Like the happy and joyful snow mountains
We’ve sung this song for the sake of freedom
Previously, a spiritual realm of dharma
Now, is changed to a barbaric prison ground.
Even at the cost of our lives, we Tibetans,
Will never lose our courage.
O, what a sad fate we Tibetans have!
To be tortured mercilessly by barbarians
We don’t have freedom
Under the yoke of these barbarians

A transcript of the full speech can be found here.

Bangri Chogtrul Rinpoche

Release Bangri Chogtrul Rinpoche

Bangri Chogtrul RinpocheBangri Chogtrul Rinpoche is a senior Tibetan Buddhist teacher and a respected social worker. He has been serving a life sentence imposed on him in 1999 on the charge of ‘attempting to split the country’. Before his arrest, he had worked to give unfortunate young children a chance to compete in society by setting up a school and that seemed to be the cause of his imprisonment.

Bangri Chogtrul Rinpoche and his wife Nyima Choedron set up a school in Lhasa in mid-1990s which housed and schooled poor and orphans children in and around Lhasa area. At the time of his arrest, the Gyatso had sixty children and increasing. The children were either orphans or from very poor families, thus lacking basic survival support and a prospect in future. When Rinpochi was arrested, Gyatso School was closed and sadly many of its children were forced to beg on the street.

Bangri Rinpoche was linked to an incident in August 1999 when a Tibetan carpenter named Tashi Tsering made an unsuccessful attempt to raise Tibetan flag and thereafter detonate explosives attached to his body. The carpenter was under contract to build a roof in order to expand the school for more children. This led to the arrest of staffs at the Gyatso School and closure of the school.

Tashi Tsering was arrested and according to official Chinese government report, he killed himself in his cell in February 2000. Several staff from the Gyatso school and relatives of Tashi Tsering were also arrested following the incident and have now been released. Bangri Rinpoche’s wife Nyima Choedron was also arrested and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Bangri Rinpoche has reported been weakened since the arrest and he is in very poor state of health.

This case reflects the malice tactic of Chinese authority in targeting Tibetans who are involved in empowering Tibetans and promoting Tibetan cultural heritage, language, and religion.

Update March 2006: Bangri Chogrul’s life sentence was commuted to a fixed term of 19 years, due to be completed in 2021. Nyima Choedron was released early on February 26, 2006.

Ngawang Phulchung

Release Ngawang Phulchung

Ngawang PhulchungNgawang Phulchung (b. 1965), a monk belonging to Drepung Monastery, was detained in 1989 and continues to serve a 19-year sentence at Drapchi prison for organizing a “counter-revolutionary clique”.

This so-called ‘clique’ has been dubbed the “Group of Ten” and includes 10 Drepung monks who joined forces after being released from an initial detention following pro-independence protests in 1987. All 10 members of the group were arrested in 1989. Charged with “undermining national security” the group received sentencings in a forced public gathering (which included 1500 Tibetans) on November 30th, 1989. Additionally, the public sentencing was broadcast on television, assuring wide dissemination of the message voiced by Chinese authorities: “Let the sentence of Ngawang Phulchung serve as a stern warning for separatists, both at home and abroad, that those who split the motherland will come to no good end.”

The Drepung monks’ ‘crimes’ included printing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Labeled the leader of the ‘clique’, Ngawang was charged with “spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda” and for “collecting intelligence and passing it on to the enemy”. For these he was sentenced to 19 years in prison and 5 years deprivation of political rights. Of the original 10 Tibetan monks arrested in 1989, 8 have been released and one, Kelsang Thutop, died in prison in 1996, likely the result of mistreatment and malnutrition. The crimes for which these men continue to suffer are limited to the peaceful exertion of what should be, an inherent right. They engaged in non-violent political activities and for these they have suffered excessive and unjust consequences.

Update November 2007: Ngawang Phulchung was released from Chushul Prison (Ch: Qushui Prison) around 21 October 2007.