Authorities pressure family of self-immolation protester

Kalsang Wangdu (image: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy)
Kalsang Wangdu (image: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy)

8th March 2016

Elsewhere, concerns about jailed monk and torture victim

The family members of Kalsang Wangdu, an 18 year old monk who set himself on fire on February 29, have been pressurised by the Chinese authorities to say that Wangdu died in a house fire.

Kalsang Wangdu was the first person to stage a self-immolation protest in Tibet since August 2015, although on the same day in India, 16-year-old Tibetan Tsering Dorjee also set himself alight, dying of his injuries three days later. While engulfed in fire, Kalsang Wangdu called for “Tibet’s complete independence”. He died en route to hospital in Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu.

Local security forces also prohibited local Tibetans from visiting Kalsang Wangdu's family to pay their respects, threatening anyone doing so with fines or arrest. 

Local authorities clamp down quickly on local communities after self-immolation protests, trying to prevent the spread of information and gatherings which could turn into protests. In many cases, they cremate the bodies of protesters to prevent proper funerals taking place.

Jigme Guri
Jigme Guri

High profile political prisoner taken to hospital

Concerns have been raised about one of Tibet's most well-known political prisoners, Jigme Guri, after he was taken to a prison hospital earlier this month. Jigme Guri (also known as Jigme Gyatso or Labrang Jigme) is a monk from Labrang Monastery in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, eastern Tibet.  He is currently serving a five year sentence for "splittist activities" and is due for release in September of this year. 

Jigme Guri's family were initially allowed to visit him for twenty minutes once a month, although they were separated by a screen and could only speak via a telephone.  However,  the family have not been allowed to visit since 25 January 2016.  During that visit Jigme Guri told his family that the prison authorities were planning to take him to hospital even though he was not ill

At the beginning of this month, the family was informed he had been taken to Da Xia Ping Prison hospital but prison authorities refused to say why, stating only that  there was no need to worry since his situation is not serious.

Jigme Guri has spent several spells in prison and was tortured nearly to death after being arrested in 2008, later releasing a video in which he described the torture in detail. His family are worried about the reason for this sudden visit to hospital, only a few months away from his expected release.

A number of high profile prisoners have died in custody in suspicious circumstances, including Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. The prison had recently rejected Jigme Guri's appeal for early release on the basis of "labour points" accumulated for productive work, which can be used to reduce sentences.

Take action for Tibet's Robed Resisters

Jigme Guri is one of many monks and nuns imprisoned in Tibet. As community leaders and frequently at the forefront of opposition to China's rule, monks and nuns are regularly targeted by the authorities and many of those imprisoned face torture and long sentences. Please contact local authorities in Tibet to demand release for Tibet's Robed Resisters.