Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was one of Tibet's most high-profile political prisoners
The senior Tibetan monk Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche has been released after eight years in prison. Now aged 60, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, was one of the most high-profile Tibetan political prisoners.
He was released from Mianyang Prison in Sichuan on the morning of 17 April. His release came slightly before the competition of his eight-and-a-half year sentence.
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was arrested in May 2008 following a peaceful protest by nuns from the Pangrina nunnery in Kardze, eastern Tibet, against a political re-education campaign that authorities enforced on the nunnery. The demonstration was broken up by police and several of the nuns were arrested. As abbot of the nunnery, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was ordered by authorities to sign a document provided by authorities criticising the Dalai Lama. He was arrested after he refused to sign it.
Torture and threats
By the time that he stood trial in April 2009, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche also faced charges of possession of weapons, after police raiding his monastery claimed to have found a pistolin his quarters. He was found guilty of “inciting separatism” and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, despite the insistence by his lawyer that the authorities had provided insufficient evidence. His lawyer also claimed that a confession that Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche gave to support the allegations against him was extracted under torture, including threats against his wife and son.
In 2014 Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche’s case attracted significant attention after a visitor to Mianyang Prison recognised him and noted his poor state of health. The visitor later described him as looking emaciated and almost unrecognisable.
After his release, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was escorted to his home in Dhartsedo in Kardze. He has since travelled to Chengdu, Sichuan Province. His health condition is unknown.
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was among the cases in Free Tibet’s Robed Resister’s campaign, which highlights the cases of Tibet’s arrested monks and calls on the Chinese authorities to release them. Free Tibet’s current Robed Resister is Thardhod Gyaltsen, currently serving an 18-year sentence for allegedly being found storing portraits and recordings of the Dalai Lama during a police raid on his monastery in 2013.
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche has been released, but there are other monks that remain in prison simply for speaking out against the occupation. Take action for Thardhod Gyaltsen now.