Tibetan political prisoner released after 10 years

Gonpo Tseten
Gonpo Tseten
Gonpo Tseten
17th August 2018

Gonpo Tseten was released from prison two years early but is now under surveillance

Free Tibet has learned that political prisoner Gonpo Tseten has been released after serving 10 years of a 12-year prison sentence. He was released on 13 August and has since returned home, where he is subject to restrictions on his political rights.

Gonpo Tseten is from Utsu Chugrar village in Bhelpan, Machu County, which is administered as part of Ganlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.  He was arrested in 2008 for spearheading protests in March 2008 in Utsu Chugrar.

While in detention, Gonpo was tortured and interrogated severely. At his trial he was found guilty of separatism, a state security crime frequently used against Tibetans who protest against the occupation, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Gonpo Tseten served his sentence at a prison near Lanzhou City where he was forced to carry out a lot of manual work. His father died while he was in prison.

Freedom, but with restrictions

In addition to his prison term, Gonpo Tseten was also sentenced to “deprivation of political rights”, a supplementary punishment specified by the Chinese Criminal Law for anyone found guilty of “endangering national security”. Individuals subject to deprivation of political rights are kept under intrusive police surveillance and are deprived of their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association, procession, and demonstration.

The duration of Gonpo Tseten’s deprivation of political rights is not known, although the Chinese Criminal Law specifies that such a punishment can be imposed for no less than one and no more than five years.

Gonpo Tseten’s release took place at midnight on 13 August. It is common for Tibetan political prisoners to be returned home at night to avoid the local community gathering to welcome them home. Gonpo Tseten’s family members, including his wife and two daughters, were forbidden by Chinese authority to take pictures and videos of his release.

Due to severe restrictions and surveillance of communications inside Tibet, details about Gonpo Tseten’s health condition are not available.

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There are hundreds of political prisoners across Tibet, many of them hidden from the world and at risk of ill-treatment. We are pushing for Bejing to reveal their location and to set them free. Get involved today.