Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has learned that Tibetan political prisoner, Tsultrim Gyatso, was handed a six-month reduction of his prison sentence in April last year. The ruling by the Intermediate People’s Court of Tianshui City was reported by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders on 17 July. The reason cited for the decision was that Gyatso had “pleaded guilty, [showed] repentance, strictly abided by prison rules and discipline, obeyed [prison] management, showed remorse and reformed well.”
Tsultrim Gyatso was sentenced to life in Tianshui Prison in 2009 by Sangchu Intermediate People’s court, following his arrest a year earlier. The prison is known as a location where Chinese Communist Party authorities use coercive physical and psychological torture known as “reform through labor”.
The life sentence was cut down to nineteen years in 2014, with this latest reduction bringing his sentence down to 18 years and five months. His release is anticipated in November 2026.
In the same ruling, Tsultrim Gyatso was handed seven years of deprivation of his political rights, a common measure that means that following his release he will continue to be subjected to 24/7 surveillance, house arrests, and restriction on movement.
Sources have reported in 2019 that Tsultrim Gyatso was suffering from failing health and that he had to be taken to Lanzhou hospital for an operation in 2017 after suffering from injuries from severe beatings during daily interrogation sessions. The living condition in the prison is very poor, and one of his eyes was damaged due to forced labour and torture. His family has been denied access to him and food and clothes brought to the prison by his family have also been rejected by prison staff.
Tsultrim Gyatso was a monk at Labrang Monastery in Sangchu County before his arrest. He hails from Yigchung Village, Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County, Gansu Province, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He was arrested in a hotel in Drukchu County by Chinese police in May 2008 after carrying out protests calling for the freedom of Tibetans and the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. He was sentenced to life in prison on 21 May 2009, for “endangering state security”.
There are large numbers of Tibetans who remain in prison for expressing the same demands as Tsultrim Gyatso did in the overwhelmingly peaceful 2008 uprising in Tibet. Tibetan political prisoners are at constant risk of torture and ill-treatment as well as being routinely denied visits from family members as well as lawyers and medical professionals. This treatment has resulted in a series of deaths of Tibetan prisoners for decades.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch