In 1990, a 13-year-old nun, Ngawang Sangdrol, participated in a peaceful protest and was held for nine months.
She was interrogated, severely beaten with iron water pipes and tortured with electric cattle prods. She was arrested again in 1992 for “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement”, and this time received a three-year sentence at Drapchi Prison – Tibet’s largest and most-feared jail.
A year later, Ngawang Sangdrol and 13 other nuns had their sentences extended by six years for singing Tibetan nationalist songs in prison. Copies of the songs were smuggled out and heard around the world.
She became one of the highest-profile Tibetan political prisoners as a result of her courage in standing up to the Chinese authorities. Her defiance resulted in solitary confinement, torture and three extensions to her sentence, which then totalled 21 years, the longest for any female political prisoner in Tibet and China at the time.
As a result of a prolonged international campaign, she was released from Drapchi Prison in October 2002.