Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has learned that family members of Dorjee Tashi have renewed their protests calling for his release.
The family of the Tibetan businessman had previously paused their protests outside the People’s High Court in Lhasa while waiting for a response from authorities but on 27 February his brother Dorjee Tseten released a video stating that due to the lack of response, these protests would begin again.
Dorjee Tashi was detained in connection with money he sent overseas following the 2008 uprising, including making a large donation to the Dalai Lama.
In summer 2010, he was convicted for “loan fraud” – a charge he and his lawyer reject – and sentenced to life imprisonment at a secret trial in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
His health is in critical condition following 15 years of torture and imprisonment.
On 6 January 2023, Dorjee Tseten appealed to the prison leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region for visitation rights and an update on his younger brother’s health and living conditions. After receiving no response, on 31 January, Dorjee Tseten and their sister Gonpo Kyi staged a peaceful protest outside the People’s High Court of the Tibet Autonomous Region, where they were met with intimidation by security personnel. The protest was paused on 2 February at the request of officials who promised to respond to the appeal within a week. This promise has not been fulfilled.
On Monday this week, Dorjee Tseten released a self-recorded video, expressing his plan to resume the protest. He states: “I have asked the Tibet Autonomous Region prison many times before New Year to let me visit my brother – but I haven’t seen him for five years” (trans. from Chinese).
Dorjee Tashi is a hotelier and noted philanthropist. He is the owner of a luxury hotel chain which includes the famous Yak Hotel in central Lhasa, a 15 minute walk from the Potala Palace. Before his arrest, Dorjee was a high-profile member of Tibet’s business elite and had a public relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He became a member of the CCP in 2003 and served as a delegate to the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body to the Chinese government. He received multiple awards and accolades for his social welfare projects, which included poverty alleviation and natural disaster relief work.
Dorjee Tashi was reportedly subject to torture in detention and has been left with a severe heart condition. He is imprisoned in Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1 in Lhasa, also known as Drapchi Prison, a facility with a reputation for inhumane conditions and guard brutality.
According to Tibet Watch’s sources, Dorjee Tashi’s family was granted a virtual meeting in December 2021. No in-person visit has been permitted since 2019.