Letter from monk, former prisoner, expresses defiance and hope

Jigme Guri
Jigme Guri

31st January 2017

Letter from Jigme Guri was smuggled out of Tibet in November last year

Free Tibet has acquired a letter written by Buddhist monk and former political prisoner Jigme Guri in which he expresses his defiance against the occupation and his faith in his fellow Tibetans.

Jigme Guri wrote the letter on 26 November 2016, one month after he was released from prison having served a five-year sentence.

Despite tight surveillance and monitoring of communications, the letter by Jigme Guri has emerged from Tibet and been shared with Tibet Watch by his former student.

The letter is titled "Survived Another Threat to Life" and offers a rare glimpse into existence under China’s repressive rule over Tibet. It refers to the harsh treatment that Tibetans who stand up to the occupation, including Jigme Guri, have been subjected to, such as arbitrary detentions and the use of torture to extract confessions from detainees.

“Strength, power, courage, patience”

Writing in his native Tibetan script, Jigme Guri reflects on the power exerted by the Chinese state: “They have various means and methods to defeat us such as threats, lies and deception … We have been made to face the law and admit to many things that we haven't done and, as a result, we have been tortured severely.”

The letter goes on to detail why the senior monk feels the need to resist: “I can say that they could [The Chinese authorities] have not made any changes to my thinking … On the contrary, for the sake of fairness and loyalty, I gained strength, power, courage, patience and much more that I hadn't gained before […] My hope for my fellow Tibetans is unshakeable – like that of a mountain and no one can destroy that.”

Jigme Guri's letter

Jigme Guri signs the letter using an alternative name, Labrang Jigme, a reference to Labrang Monastery in Sangchu County, eastern Tibet, where he lived prior to his arrest in 2011. Jigme Guri is prohibited from returning to Labrang Monastery, or wearing his monks’ robes, under the conditions of his release in November.

The full text of the letter is below this article.

Speaking out

Jigme Guri was arrested in August 2011 after dozens of police officers and soldiers raided a hotel that he was staying in. No reason was publicly provided for the arrest, although it was believed to be related to a video he recorded in 2008 in which he criticised violent crackdown in Tibet at that time and spoke of the beatings and torture that he suffered in police custody during a previous arrest. He was later sentenced to five years in prison for "attempting to split the nation", a crime under China’s state security laws.

Jigme Guri was released from prison on 26 October 2016, having completed his sentence. Following his release, he remained under constant under surveillance by Chinese security services and his movements were monitored.

In November 2016 he was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and problems with his heart, liver and eyes. Jigme Guri did not suffer from any serious health problems before his arrest in 2011.

Full text of Jigme Guri’s letter:

"Survived Another Threat to Life"

“Once my courage and commitment, love for Tibetans, love for Tibet, hope and the spirit for survival have declined, then "their" wishes are fulfilled. So, they have various means and methods to defeat us, such as threatening and misleading, lying and deception. In a nutshell, showing threatening faces and cunning smiles are the methods they have become experts in.

“In this way, the general public have been fooled. As for us, major crimes have been manipulated and hats have been put on our heads - we have been made to face the law and admit to many things that we haven't done and, as a result, we have been tortured severely. Or, we have been continuously targeted to be destroyed from the world completely.

“But I can say that they could not have made any changes to my thinking and my innermost promise. On the contrary, for the sake of truth and justice, for the sake of fairness and loyalty, I gained strength, power, courage, patience and much more that I hadn't gained before. And I believe this is the power of the strength of truth and justice.

“My thoughts about my people, my love for my country, my hope for my fellow Tibetans are unshakeable like that of a rocky mountain, no one can destroy that. For the sake of world peace, the flourishing of the land and happiness for sentient beings, I can sacrifice myself. This is the life promise created by truth and justice. When a butter lamp is extinguished by the wind, or prayer flags are cut by a knife, or whatever it may be, this is the will of a dying man or innermost heartfelt words.

“By Labrang Jigme, On 26 November, 2016”

Take action

One of the most prominent Tibetan political prisoners is Tashi Wangchuk, who was arrested in January 2016 after featuring in a report in the New York Times about his advocacy of the Tibetan language. Despite no evidence of him having committed a crime, he could face a trial at any time, with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. His situation is urgent - contact your ambassador to China asking them to raise his case with the authorities.