Tibetan in exile reveals cousin’s ordeal

Gendun Phuntsok was under emergency treatment after release from prison

A Tibetan refugee in India has revealed the ordeal her cousin brother faced since his detention in 2015 after he called for freedom and the return of the exiled leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Gendun Phuntsok, a monk at Kirti Monastery then aged only 16, staged a solo street protest in Ngaba County on 8 March 2015 holding up a photo of the Dalai Lama, shouting “We want freedom and equality in Tibet! Let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet!” His home county of Ngaba is where the first and the largest number of Tibetans had burned themselves alive in protest against the ruling Chinese government.

Although his arrest was reported at the time by Tibetan exile media, it was not known that seven months later, in October 2015, his cousin sister, Namkyi, had also taken to the street with the photo of the Dalai Lama calling for freedom. She too was subsequently taken into custody and subjected to extreme torture, including being confined to a narrow cell without ventilation that stifled them with extreme heat and sweating.

Namkyi, 24, now living in Dharamsala, home to the 89-year-old Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile,  is one of the handful Tibetan refugees to have escaped alive into exile after being imprisoned and tortured for her courageous protest calling for freedom in Tibet. She is also amongst the only few refugees to have spoken publicly about her life since detention (full interview forthcoming), as well as that of her brother.

Former prisoner Gendun Phuntsok making recovery under medical supervision at a hospital following release from prison

“Ngaba County police arrived and arrested him. He was then taken to People’s Court in Tashi Ling (Ch: Li) County in Ngaba Prefecture and sentenced to four years in prison. He was imprisoned at Deyang Prison in Huangxu City in Sichuan province. In Deyang prison, he was put in forced labour such as sewing clothes in the prison factory. Before he was imprisoned, he was tortured inhumanly during the interrogations by police authorities at a detention centre in Ngaba County. He suffered from head ache and his ribs were broken due to the police torture at the detention.”

“On 8 March 8 2019, Gendun was released and he was taken from the prison to Ngaba County police custody where he was kept under detention for a few more days and then his illness became worse. His family asked the concerned police authorities to allow him to see a doctor in Ngaba County but the county hospital said that they can’t treat his illness and suggested taking him to a better hospital in Chengdu City.”

“When he was checked in Chengdu City hospital, they found out that Gendun had an illness that looks like tuberculosis and his stomach was full of some fluid. So Gendun was operated and treated at the hospital for two months and  finally saved his life. He almost died at that time. Later his illness became better but now Gedun’s health deteriorated and became an unhealthy person. His family paid 10,000 Chinese yuan for his treatment at the hospital. Gendun didn’t go to the monastery due to the injuries he sustained in both Chinese detention and prison labour. Currently, he lives at home under his family’s care.”

Gendun Phuntsok (དགེ་འདུན་ཕུན་ཚོགས།) is from Pema Lhathang Village (པདྨ་ལྷ་ཐང་སྡེ་བ།) in Lower Charo Chugra (གཅའ་རོ་ཕྱུགས་ར་འགབ་མ།), Ngaba County. He joined Kirti Monastery as a young boy and studied there until his arrest in March 2015.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

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