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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Bold public expression of support for the Dalai Lama that led to imprisonment of Tibetan captured on video

August 5, 2010

International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
August 2, 2010

Rare footage of Runggye Adak, a Tibetan nomad
serving an eight-year prison sentence for
expressing Tibetans' loyalty to the Dalai Lama in
front of an audience of thousands, is made public
this week by the International Campaign for Tibet
(ICT) to mark the third anniversary of the
incident. The footage, subtitled in English,
shows an extract of Runggye Adak's bold on-stage
statement at the traditional Lithang Horse
Festival in eastern Tibet on 1 August 2007, in
the moments after he seized the microphone to
speak and before he was arrested and imprisoned.
To view the footage, click here
or visit, the website of the
International Tibet Support Network (ITSN). A
high resolution version without subtitles can be
downloaded from <>.

New information from Tibet indicates that there
are fears for Runggye Adak's health and that of
his nephew Adak Lopoe, a senior monk from Lithang
sentenced to ten years, and Tibetan art teacher
and musician Kunkhyen, sentenced to nine years,
both for attempting to provide pictures and
information about the protest to 'overseas
organizations' which were judged to 'endanger
national security'. It is significant that the
two Tibetans allegedly reporting on the event
were sentenced to longer terms than the
perpetrator, and may have been intended to convey
an intimidatory signal to Tibetans about passing
on news about unrest or dissent to the outside
world, particularly in the run-up to the summer
Olympics in Beijing. Runggye Adak's family has
only been able to visit him once in the past
three years, according to ITSN, a global
coalition of Tibet support organizations worldwide.

Mary Beth Markey, President of the International
Campaign for Tibet, said: "This remarkable
footage of Runggye Adak attests to the central
trespass of the Chinese authorities in Tibet,
which is to strike hard and fast against devotion
to the Dalai Lama, the embodiment of the unique
Tibetan identity. Criminalizing devotion to the
Dalai Lama has been the undoing of their efforts
to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans and
certainly contributed to the anger that erupted
in March 2008 in Lhasa and led to a wave of protests spreading across Tibet."

Three years ago this week Runggye Adak, a 56
year-old Tibetan nomad from Lithang (Chinese:
Litang) in Sichuan province (the Tibetan area of
Kham) took the microphone at a major horse
festival and spoke to a crowd of thousands who
had gathered for the opening ceremony. He spoke
for several minutes before he was detained by
armed police who made their way to the stage. The
footage, which was made available to ICT by a
foreigner who happened to be at the horse
festival does not capture Runggye Adak's full
statement. The English translation of the few
seconds featured in footage is as follows:

"...These things have happened to us; did you
hear what has happened to us? Although we can
move our bodies, we cannot express what is in our
hearts. You know? These days there are those who
say we don't need the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama
is the one that we six million Tibetans truly [need]"

Sources who witnessed the incident report that
Runggye Adak also called for the Dalai Lama to
return home to Tibet. An eyewitness to Runggye
Adak's protest told ICT: "I saw him walk onto the
stage, which was full of Chinese military and
officials. He was very calm, very dignified and
he spoke clearly. I couldn't understand what he
was saying because I don't know the Kham dialect,
but I could see Tibetans around me shaking their
heads in sadness, because they were fearful for
him, and others openly agreeing with him."

Immediately after his detention, local Tibetans
and others in the area to attend the summer horse
festival crowded into the courtyard of the police
station to protest his detention before being
dispersed by police. Several days afterwards,
Tibetans again gathered, this time outside the
town, and were dispersed by riot police using
tear-gas and firing guns into the air (images
were provided to ICT by a visitor to the area,
see ICT report at

An official Chinese statement, dated August 3,
2007, reported that Runggye Adak had been
detained "for inciting separation of
nationalities", saying: "The villager named
Runggye Adak went to a platform at about 10:00 am
Wednesday before the opening ceremony in Litang
county, and shouted out words of "Tibetan
independence" and stopped vehicles to disrupt
public order, according to the sources. The
villager was detained by police for being
suspected of breaching the law.... The police
sources said they would handle the case of
Runggye Adak, whose words and deeds were meant to
separate the country and harm national unity and
has disrupted public order, according to law." (Xinhua, August 3, 2007)

According to ITSN, Runggye Adak's family members
have only met him and Atruk Lopo once in the past
three years. The meeting occurred after 50 people
filed a request to local Chinese officials.
Rungyye Adak, the father of 11 children, has poor
eyesight. The expressions of support among
Tibetans for Runggye Adak's statement at the
horse festival led to the launch of an intense
"patriotic education" campaign in Lithang and
throughout Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,
in Sichuan province (the Tibetan area of Kham).
(See ICT report at

Since March, 2008, the situation has become even
more tense in Lithang following the wave of
protests that swept across Tibet. Protests were
documented in Lithang in February, 2009, by the
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and
other organizations

The footage is a vivid depiction of how a
perfectly civil expression of a point of view can
earn years in prison in Tibet as a "crime" that
China says can endanger the security of the state.

ICT and ITSN call on China to uphold its
obligations under international law regarding
freedom of belief and expression. We urge all
governments and U.N. human rights mechanisms to
adopt a systematic approach to vigorously
engaging China on its blatant violations of
international human rights principles, and to
press China to reform its policies in Tibet that
seek or induce the obliteration of the Tibetan
identity, including those that criminalize
devotion to the Dalai Lama. We further urge
direct engagement between the Dalai Lama and
Chinese leaders to find a solution that leads to
peace and the full enjoyment of human rights for
all Tibetans in the People's Republic of China.

The International Tibet Support Network, a
coalition of 168 Tibet support groups on six
continents, published two appeals for Runggye
Adak's release by his son and nephew, who are
both now living in exile. The appeals, which have
been uploaded at:, follow below.

Statement by Runggye Adak's son, Jamyang Lobsang

My father, Runggye Adak is innocent because what
he said was true and represents the wishes and
aspiration of all Tibetans inside Tibet.

Therefore, the family trusts him and will always support him.

The three points he had raised, plus his
condemnation of Tibetans fighting with each other
[a reference to Runggye Adak's concern about
Tibetan nomads' disputes over land and other
issues following settlement policies] are within
the law of the People's Republic of China.

But the Chinese government saw it differently and sentenced him to eight years.

My family disagrees and condemns the verdict.

He has been in prison for three years now and we all are desperate to meet him.

I hope that he will be released soon.

I want to thank everyone working for his release.

Atuk Tseten: Runggye Adak's Nephew:

I do not believe that Chinese government will
heed the request of Tibetan NGOs and Tibet
Support Groups around the world for the release
of my uncle, Runggye Adak on the basis that he is innocent.

I say this because Chinese government knows that
he is innocent according to law but he was still
charged with trying to split the motherland and
sentenced to eight years into prison.

But I would like to take this opportunity to
reach out to all the people and groups that stand
for justice, support innocent and to Chinese
people in particular that on August 1, 2007, at
the Lithang Horse festival, Runggye Adak was
arrested for saying three points that represents
wishes and aspiration of all Tibetans inside Tibet.

These are, His Holiness must be allowed to return
to Tibet, Tibetans need freedom [of religion] and
others and release Tibetan political prisoners,
including Panchen Rinpoche and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.

For these words he was sentenced to prison.

Risking their own lives, a large number of
Tibetans protested against is arrest.

This shows that the Chinese government's claim
that there is no Tibet issue is false and proves
to the world that there is a Tibet issue that needs to be resolved.
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