Panchen Lama protest

Human rights case studies

Below are a selection of case studies of individuals who have suffered human rights abuses at the hand of China’s regime. Many of them have been imprisoned and some remain in prison, died whilst in prison or still have unknown whereabouts.

The Panchen Lama

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognised by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama reincarnation, has been missing since 1995.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison in 2015. He was a highly respected religious leader and had been jailed since 2002.

Dhondup Wangchen

Dhondup Wangchen was imprisoned for 'subversion' for Leaving Fear Behind, a film sharing ordinary Tibetans' views.

Golog Jigme

Tibetan activist Golog Jigme recently reached the West. He was tortured for his role in making the film Leaving Fear Behind.

Ngawang Sangdrol

In 1990, 13-year-old nun Ngawang Sangdrol participated in a peaceful protest and was jailed over several years, suffering torture.


Phuntsog was the first Tibetan monk to self-immolate since 2009. His protest was met by military and communication controls.

Yonten Gyatso

37-year-old senior monk Yonten Gyatso was arrested in October 2011 for sharing information about protests inside Tibet.

Bangri Tsamtrul Rinpoche

The Rinpoche founded an orphanage and was well-respected in his community. He was arrested for 'attempting to split the country'.

Norpa Yonten

Norpa Yonten, a 49-year-old herder, was shot dead by Chinese security forces at a peaceful protest on 24 January 2012.

Geshe Tsewang Namgyal

Teacher and academic Geshe Tsewang Namgyal is one of four monks from Drango disappeared in January 2012.

Khenpo Kartse

Highly respected local leader Khenpo Kartse was sentenced in a closed trial, after being in detention for nearly a year.


AIDS awareness campaigner Wangdu received a life sentence in 2008 for sending an email about crackdowns on protesters.

Gangkye Drubpa Kyab

Tibetan father, teacher and writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab was sentenced in 2012 and again in 2021 for alleged political activities.

Dorje Tashi

Millionaire hotel owner and CCP member Dorje was detained after 2008 protests and sentenced to life.

Kunchok Tsephel

Kunchok Tsephel, founder of a popular Tibetan literary website, was detained in 2009 and his website shut down.

Tsering Gyaltsen

Tsering Gyaltsen was disappeared in 2012. The authorities denied any knowledge of him until later confirming his death in detention.

Phurbu Rinpoche

Free Tibet believes that Phurbu was detained following peaceful demonstrations by nuns from Pangrina nunnery, where he is abbot.

Paljor Norbu

Paljor Norbu, in his eighties, was sentenced to seven years for printing illegal materials - including the banned national Tibetan flag.

Further reading

Further reading


Imagine being snatched from the street or even your home. You are loaded into a police car and driven to an unknown location. Your friends, colleagues and family don’t know where you are. Nor do you. It is like you have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Further reading


Our findings show that torture, abuse and degradation of Tibetan political prisoners continue in Chinese-occupied Tibet and that prisoners continue to be killed from torture and convicted as a result of confessions obtained by torture.

We are Free Tibet, and we stand with Tibetans around the world. For their homeland, for their future and against China’s brutal occupation.