Tibetan monk and former prisoner dies from wounds

Geshe Tenzin Pelsang served six years in prison but never recovered from the torture he suffered

A Tibetan monk and former political prisoner has died from injuries inflicted on him in prison, Tibet Watch has learned.

Geshe Tenzin Pelsang served six years in prison between 2012 and 2018 following his arrest for allegedly leading protests in Drago County in eastern Tibet. During his time in prison he was beaten and tortured.

A source confirmed to Tibet Watch that Geshe Tenzin Pelsang died in early November after his situation had worsened in recent months. The source also noted that local authorities had impeded Geshe Tenzin Pelsang from accessing medical treatment that he needed.

Geshe Tenzin Pelsang was born in 1965 in Norpa village, Drago County, Kardze Prefecture. Under the occupation, Drago County is governed as part of Sichuan Province.

He was enrolled in the local  monastery at a young age and studied Tibetan Buddhism. In 1986, he joined the Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India to study Buddhism. In 2009, he graduated with a Geshe degree (a doctorate degree in Tibetan Buddhism) and returned to Tibet.

Geshe Tenzin Pelsang later returned to Drago Monastery,  where he served in various capacities, most recently as the treasurer of the monastery.

On 23 January 2012, protests swept across Drago County. A few months later, on 2 April, police from the Sichuan Province Public Security Bureau arrested Geshe Tenzin Pelsang. They initially arrested him with no explanation but would later claim that he was the ringleader of the January protests. He was held incommunicado for ten months and taken to the city of Chengdu where he was charged with  involvement in political crimes.

He was ultimately sentenced to six years in prison. Three other monks from Drago Monastery also stood trial at this time, accused of involvement in the January 2012 protests. Two of them, a rinpoche and a teacher, were also sentenced to six years in prison. A fourth monk was given a five-year sentence.”

Geshe Tenzin Pelsang would spend the next six years in prison. A source who spoke to Tibet Watch described Geshe Tenzin Pelsang’s ordeal throughout his imprisonment and even after his release:

“Due to the excessive beating and torture while in prison, Tenzin Pelsang sustained multiple injuries and he was barely able to walk and stand by himself when he was released from prison in 2018.”

The source added that even after Geshe Tenzin Pelsang’s release, Chinese authorities continued to interfere in his life, making it complicated for him to get proper medical treatment.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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