Political prisoner and torture victim: escaped Tibet in May 2014
Golog Jigme Gyatso is the most significant Tibetan activist to reach the West since the Tibetan Uprising in 2008. His resistance, persecution, torture and escape in Chinese-occupied Tibet is both a remarkable personal story and a deep insight into Tibet under Chinese rule.
After breaking out from a Chinese jail in 2012, he spent twenty months on the run, being sheltered by Tibetans at huge risk to themselves. He secretly crossed the border to India in May 2014 and moved to Switzerland in 2015, where he has already given testimony to the United Nations and become a key individual in the campaign to prevent China winning the 2022 Olympic Games.
44-year-old Tibetan monk Golog Jigme was arrested in 2008 for helping to make a film in which Tibetans spoke frankly about the Chinese occupation and the forthcoming Olympic Games. (Although he and his fellow filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen were both jailed before completing the film, it was smuggled out of China, edited and later screened to journalists in Beijing prior to the Olympics.) Jailed three times between 2008 and 2012, he was brutally tortured, including being chained to the chimney of a burning stove and to an iron chair where he faced beatings and electric shocks. In exile, he told researchers:
Whenever I remember that chair I feel scared, even to this day. I felt like it would be better to die than survive being tortured on that chair. I was kept on the chair days and nights. At one point, my feet got swollen and, to my horror, all my toenails fell off.
He was arrested again in 2009 for allegedly sharing information with the outside world about the Tibetan Uprising in 2008 and then in 2012, jailed again on a charge of inciting Tibetan self-immolation protests. Believing that he was to be killed in hospital, he managed to escape from jail. While he was on the run, the authorities charged him with murder but their nationwide manhunt was a failure after Tibetans protected him for nearly two years.
Golog Jigme has continued his activism for Tibet since reaching exile. In Switzerland, he has given testimony to the United Nations Human Rights Council. At a demonstration in Lausanne, where Beijing's Olympic bid committee was presenting at the International Olympics Committee he said:
I stand here today as a witness of Chinese repression in Tibet. But this is not only about me. Many Tibetan human rights defenders and protestors were jailed and killed in 2008.
Addressing the IOC he said:
If the Olympic Games 2022 should be awarded to China again you will be co-responsible for such atrocities. If you cannot support us, don’t treat us like toys for the sake of flattering the Chinese Communist Party. We the Tibetan people are also citizens of this world and our dignity and rights must be respected.
In July 2015, Golog Jigme sent a personal letter to members of the International Olympic Committee asking them to eject China's bid.