Tibetan political prisoner dies of torture

12th December 2014

Dies three days after release from prison

33-year-old Tenzin Choedak died on 5 December 2014, after 6 years of torture in Chushul prison. He was released just days before his death. It is common for seriously ill, tortured prisoners to be released early to avoid the authorities suffering the embarrassment and inconvenience of having them die in custody. In February Goshul Lobsang who was also tortured died just days after his early release.

Tortured in Tibet

Tenzin Choedak had lived in exile and returned to Lhasa in 2004, where he worked with a non-government organisation on environment and health issues of rural Tibetans. He was arrested in April 2008 on allegations of leading the March 2008 protests in Lhasa and sentenced to 15 years in prison in September 2008, after being tortured in detention. In prison Tenzin Choedak lost his vision and suffered chronic diseases, as a result of torture, which damaged his brain and he would often vomit blood. He became emaciated, incontinent and unable to recognise family members. After two hospitals reported that his condition was terminal, Tenzin Choedak’s family appealed to authorities for his release. He was released into their care on 2 December and died on 5 December. Despite his condition, Tenzin Choedak’s hands and feet were shackled to the bed in hospital and he was guarded by four members of the police.

Tibetan pride

An eyewitness reported that before he died he started to sing the Tibetan national anthem. Tenzin Choedak's father who lives in exile and was politically active in Tibet said:

"I am always praying for myself and also my son not to be reborn in a land under China's rule. I was compelled to flee into exile, my family is ruined and now my only son has been pushed to death. But whatever has happened to me and my family, I will never regret and despite everything I am proud of my son and also of what I have done as a small contribution to the Tibetan freedom struggle.”

Take action

Jails in Tibet are full of political prisoners. Whilst they number in the thousands, the exact number is unknown, as many Tibetan political prisoners simply disappear.  Sign the petition hereCurrently at least 10 Tibetan singers are in jail, imprisonned for singing songs celebrating Tibetan culture and identity. Almost 8,000 people have called on Wu Aiying, China's Justice Minister, to release them; will you add voice?