Release Lithang Rongye Adak

Adak“The man who spoke out for freedom, truth and justice” – an appeal from his son Dhondup

Rongye Adak: if he had not spoken out, the news wouldn’t have been made, but the suppression would have continued silently, the pain in the heart of every individual would have remained buried deep in the hearts and never spoken about, and everything would have been “normal”.

He went onto the stage, and after paying respects to the Lithang Lama, he suddenly grabbed the mike and gave a speech calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and for Tibet’s independence.

Lithang Rongye Adak, a deeply religious man at 53, broke the silence by speaking the truth, the truth that remained suppressed in the hearts of his fellow countrymen. Rongye Adak is a father who, besides running his nomadic family, acts as a social worker in his local community in Yunru Kha-shul area in Lithang, eastern Tibet.

PAP in Lithang Tibet, the country that has been invaded, occupied and colonized by China, is today being ruled by a military regime and a set of laws that dictates to the native people the orders of the colonial Government of the Han Chinese majority from Beijing. The sophistication of governance and the interpretation of it are such that Tibet is now being transformed from a land of virgin pastures and untouched fresh water and glaciers into a hugely urbanized and industrial zone with rampant mining, damming and deforestation. Networks of roads and bridges built are now crisscrossing the country destroying the traditional lives of the Tibetans, and all these are done in the name of “development”.

It happened recently on 1st August, in Lithang where the annual horse racing festival had started and thousands of Tibetans had gathered from all over Kham region to witness the traditional Tibetan festival. As the government officials sat in chairs in a big ceremony, Rongye Adak, a tall sturdy man from Khampa Lithang stepped on to the stage and gave the surprise speech.

He began by asking fellow Tibetans to stop getting into petty fights among themselves for land and gathering the medicinal herb Yartsa Gunbo, and asked all Tibetans to unite. Then when he had the full attention of the crowd he asked whether they want His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. The audience that consisted mostly of nomads responded in unison that they all want their leader to return to Tibet. And everybody cheered, clapping and whistling.

Rongye Adak went on to ask for the release of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the XI Panchen Lama who has been in custody of the People’s Republic of China from 1995, ever since he was kidnapped at the age of six. The fire of truth raged and there was no stopping. He also demanded the release of Tulku Tenzin Delek, who has been sentenced for life for an alleged case of bomb blast in Sichuan in 2004.

And when the Chinese authorities sitting on the stage slowly realized what Adak was saying, Adak had already made his speech. The police seized him and took him away. This provoked the audience who was already agitated and moved by the powerful speech by their new found hero.

A strong crowd of six to seven thousand Tibetans demanded that Adak be released immediately. And when police reached for guns, hundreds of nomads who were emotionally charged, took off their shirts and showing their bare chests, challenged the police to shoot them. They said what Adak did was only an expression of dissatisfaction which the Chinese law permits as right to free expression.

The stand-off with the police force and the Tibetans went on for several days ever since the incident of 1st August. As the news of Adak’s courageous act of speaking up spread to other villages and towns, more and more people started pouring in to show their support. The police banned travellers from entering Lithang to control public mobility and the political unrest from spreading.

Finally on the 8th August, Tibetan village leaders from different parts of Lithang pleaded with the Tibetans to disperse, informing them that the Chinese officials were planning a brutal military crackdown. Only after the leaders promised that they would take full responsibility for Lithang Adak’s safe release, did the crowd slowly disperse.

Even after the crowd’s withdrawal, Lithang Adak still remains in prison. The news of Adak’s heroic act and his defiant public speech has now reached people all over Tibet and his call for return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for Tibetan Independence has touched a cord in many Tibetan’s hearts. Now Tibetans in Kham Bathang and Karze, and Amdo Ngawa and Labrang have sent messages of solidarity and reassured their full support to the cause Lithang Adak stood for. A revolution is in the making.

The soft-spoken man, a father of eleven children who lived a simple nomadic life has suddenly become a political prisoner. With his wife ill and family suffering, and three of his children presently studying in India, this appeal comes to you to spread the message of freedom and justice that the Tibetan hero stood up for. We ask you to appeal to the Government of China to release Lithang Rongye Adak immediately and unconditionally. We also request you to ask your Government and the UN for help.

Dhondup, Lithang Adak’s son
Tseten Lithang Adak’s nephew
Drepung Monastery
South India