Go Sherab Gyatso

Go Sherab Gyatso sentenced to 10 years in prison

The monk, writer and intellectual was sentenced in secret in November

Free Tibet’s research partner, Tibet Watch, has learned that renowned Tibetan writer, intellectual and monk, Go Sherab Gyatso, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The sentence was handed down in November this year after Go Sherab Gyatso was found guilty of “inciting secession”, a state security crime that is frequently employed as a charge against Tibetans. The exact date of the ruling is unknown due to the secrecy around Go Sherab Gyatso’s detention and trial. He will serve his sentence in a prison near Tibet’s capital, Lhasa.

A source close to Go Sherab Gyatso confided that:

It is true that court has given a verdict of ten years imprisonment to Go Sherab Gyatso. This news and information were shared with us by a person living in Tibet. Not only that, many Tibetans living inside Tibet including many writers and educators have expressed their displeasure about his court sentence and expressed words of solidarity with him by sharing images of his books, articles, and quotes from Go Sherab Gyatso on their social media accounts. But with the prevailing condition of communication restrictions, surveillance, and restricted freedom of speech in Tibet, we have been not able to ascertain when and which court pronounced the verdict on him.

Go Sherab Gyatso teaching

Go Sherab Gyatso giving one of his teachings.

After the spread of this news outside Tibet, many Tibetans in Tibet and including those in exile have stressed that Go Sherab Gyatso is not only an author of many books but is also a human rights and pro-democracy activist.

Go Sherab Gyatso was arrested by Chinese state security on 26 October 2020. Following inquiries by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Chinese government responded with a letter earlier this year, confirming that he had been detained “on suspicion of inciting secession.”

Until the Chinese government’s official response, much of the details about Go Sherab Gyatso’s case remained unknown, with communications around the case suppressed.

Despite the secrecy around Go Sherab Gyatso’s detention and location, the Chinese government letter denied that there had been any “secret detention”, “arbitrary detention” or “enforced disappearance”.

This is the fourth time that Go Sherab Gyatso has been detained. He was first arrested in 1998 for possessing and displaying images of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and sentenced to four years in jail. He was arrested for a second time in Lhasa in 2008 and put in detention for a year. His third detention occurred at some point between 2011 and 2013 and lasted for a few months.

Go Sherab Gyatso was born in 1976 in Khashi (ཁ་ཤི་སྡེ་བར་) Village in Ngaba County, which is currently governed as a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province.

In 1986, he enrolled as a monk in Kirti Monastery in Tibet. In 1990, he visited India on his pilgrimage to Nepal and stayed for a year or two before returning to Tibet.

Throughout his life, Go Sherab Gyatso has visited schools and monasteries across every region in Tibet, giving numerous lectures and classes on different topics ranging from the importance of traditional forms of knowledge, Buddhism, religious harmony to the importance of democracy and freedom. He has so far published eight books.


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