Torture survivor sentenced to five years

10th September 2014

Monk Jigme Gyatso jailed again; elsewhere, outspoken Tibetan beaten

Two Tibetans who have spoken out against China in Tibet have been punished by the authorities.

Freedom of speech in Tibet

Kardak was severely beaten by authorities after speaking out about the situation in his village, in Dzato County. On 27 August, local Tibetans were invited to express their opinions and talk about the difficulties in their everyday life. Officials became angry and beat Kardak for raising issues faced by local Tibetans and opposing corruption amongst some of the local officials.

Local Tibetans objected to Kardak’s treatment. Fearing further complaints maybe directed at their superiors, officials went to talk to Kardak's uncle and brother. They offered to pay for the medical treatment and compensation for Kardak’s injuries but the family refused. Kardak said “we cannot solve our problems, if local officials continue allowing corrupt behaviour ”. He will continue to press the issue and submit a petition to government officials after recovering from his injuries.

Corrupt officials

Tensions are especially high in this area during the harvest season of the caterpillar fungus. The fungus (a naturally occurring commodity which fetches high prices in China) is a major source of income for rural Tibetans, and by local law it is illegal for people outside of Dzato County to harvest these fungus. Local authorities have been taking bribes from Chinese traders to allow them to collect fungus illegally.

Jigme Gyatso sentenced

Jigme Guri undated photo crop.jpeg After more than 3 years in detention Jigme Gyatso has been sentenced to five years on charges of “inciting splitism” by a court in Lanzhou on 5 September 2014. He was arrested in August 2011. Apart from a court appointed lawyer no one else was allowed at the trial; locals doubt whether even Jigme Gyatso was present.

Golog Jigme, who recently escaped to India after more than a year on the run from the authorities in Tibet, was a close friend of Jigme Gyatso and told Tibet Watch: “[…] Jigme was sentenced to five years by a court in Lanzhou on 5 September. At least this will be better for him rather than remaining in the hands of the brutal police and authorities in detention. In detention there are interrogations and torture included beatings. Family members are unable to know his whereabouts and situation while in detention. Now it has already been three years since Jigme was arrested and he will be released after two years if usual procedures are followed. But who knows what the authorities will do, they often do not follow the rules.

As reported previously, he was arrested in August 2011 for the fourth time. His room was searched and authorities confiscated photos of the Dalai Lama, DVDs and his computer. His family were notified of his arrest a year later in June 2012.

Torture and testimony

Jigme Gyatso was previously arrested in 2008 on suspicion of being one of the ring leaders of protests in Labrang. He was released a month later, after almost dying from torture. He recorded this testimony of his torture during that time.