New report: Exiled Tibetan describes the truth about life in Tibet

Monday, 31 October 2016

Free Tibet media release


Report by Tibet Watch details the experiences of Tibetans who speak out under the Chinese occupation

A new report from Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch details the ordeals of Nyima Lhamo, the niece of the late Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, one of the most high profile political prisoners in Tibet before his death in prison in controversial circumstances in July 2015 [1].

The report, “An Interview with Nyima Lhamo”, gives first-hand insights into the suffocating conditions being imposed on Tibet under the Chinese occupation, and the severe penalties for Tibetans who speak out against them. These stories are largely unknown due to the tight restrictions on information leaving Tibet, and on travel to Tibet by human rights organisations, foreign diplomats and the United Nations.

The report consists of an extensive interview by Nyima Lhamo with Tibet Watch. In the interview, Nyima Lhamo gives detailed information about the interference by the Chinese authorities in her life immediately following the news of the death of her uncle, who she last saw in 2002 when she was 13. The story she tells is one of harsh laws against dissent, strict surveillance, interference by police and dire prison conditions.

Following her uncle’s death, Nyima Lhamo and her mother criticised the Chinese authorities, claiming they were responsible for his demise. They were arrested, detained for several days and closely monitored after their release. This monitoring lasted until earlier this year, when Nyima Lhamo managed to escape Tibet and reach the safety of exile in Dharamsala, northern India. Many other Tibetans who have criticised the Chinese occupation remain in prison, where they serve lengthy sentences [2].  

Nyima Lhamo took the risky decision to escape Tibet in order to tell the world about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death and the harsh penalties that Tibetans pay for criticising the occupying Chinese authorities.

Free Tibet and Tibet Watch director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

The stories of Nyima Lhamo and her uncle, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, perfectly capture the many ways that Tibetans’ lives can be ruined by the intrusive and dictatorial occupation that they live under. Tibetans live under tight surveillance, experience daily humiliation from security forces and have to endure the eradication of their culture. Standing up to these abuses often lands people in prison, where conditions are so harsh that they claimed the life of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and deprived Nyima Lhamo of an uncle.

Nyima Lhamo’s brave decision to escape from her homeland and reach India was motivated by her desire to tell the truth about her uncle and about what is really happening to Tibetans. This report spells out the brutality of the occupation through first-hand experience. It is now the job of people outside Tibet to pay attention and for world leaders to urge China to end the abuses.

The full report (18 pages) can be read on Tibet Watch’s website here:


Contact: Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director Free Tibet and Tibet Watch

E: ,

T: +44 (0)207 324 4605 (UK office hours)

Notes for editors

[1] Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly revered and respected lama and a critic of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, was arrested at his monastery in April 2002 on false charges of being involved in bomb blasts in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison on 12 July 2016. Despite being severely ill in prison, China ignored international pressure from foreign governments, the United Nations and human rights organisation to grant him medical parole. According to authorities, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died of cardiac arrest. Nyima Lhamo has claimed that he was poisoned, and monks that saw his body after his death claim that his fingernails, toenails and lips were black and his head had a hollow at the back.

[2] A brief, non-exhaustive list of Tibetan political prisoners can be found on Free Tibet’s website here: Many of these prisoners were arrested for criticising the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the accompanying human rights abuses.