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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Former prisoner of conscience vanishes into custody again

June 6, 2016

Radio Free Asia, June 3, 2016 - A Tibetan man freed from prison three years ago after serving a 21-year sentence has disappeared again into Chinese police custody, a Tibetan source in exile says.

Lodroe Gyatso, 55, was detained in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa around midnight on May 14, 2016 and has not been heard from since, Ngawang Tharpa, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.

“We have no information on his present condition, and it is very difficult to contact anyone to get more information,” Tharpa said.

News of Gyatso’s detention was delayed in reaching outside contacts due to restrictions on communications imposed by Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas.

Gyatso, a native of Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in the Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, was first handed a 15-year prison term in 1991 for killing a man in a fight, but later had his sentence extended for engaging in political activism while incarcerated, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

On March 4, 1995, he called on other prisoners to protest and shouted, “Tibet is independent, China should leave Tibet!,” one source said, adding that Gyatso had also distributed protest literature in prison.

Though authorities wanted to execute him for his activism, his case was raised by Amnesty International and the U.N., and he was sentenced instead to a further six-year term, sources said.

Gyatso had been “severely tortured” during the initial phase of his earlier detention, Tharpa said.

“His cell was so small that he couldn’t even raise his head, and at one point he was hung from a ceiling all night with nails driven through his thumbs,” he said.

The reasons for Gyatso’s most recent detention and the place where he is being held are still unknown, Tharpa said, adding, “His relatives and family members have had no word on his condition.”

Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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