Political prisoner released after twelve years in prison

Sonam Gyalpo

1st September 2017

Sonam Gyalpo was released on 27 August 2017 after being charged for “endangering state security”.

Originally from Nakartse County, in Lhokha Prefecture, he was sentenced in 2005 and imprisoned in Chushul prison in Lhasa for twelve years.

Sonam Gyalpo’s health has been a concern for his family throughout his time in prison. In his mid-fifties his current condition and the details of his experience in prison remain unknown.

However, Free Tibet’s latest campaign ‘In the Dark’ has highlighted the unpleasant conditions many Tibetan political prisoners could suffer while being incarcerated including at Chushul which has gained a notorious reputation.

This is not the first prison sentence Sonam Gyalpo has served. He was detained in Ngari Detention Centre and Sangyip Prison in Lhasa for over a year in the early 1990s having previously been imprisoned for three years under the charges of “counter-revolutionary activities” for his involvement in the peaceful protest in Lhasa on 27 September 1987.

In total he has spent 16 years in prison for the Tibetan cause during which he suffered extreme torture.

In the past couple of months several other political prisoners have been released by the Chinese authorities including: Kalsang Yarphel a Tibetan musician arrested for singing politically themed songs, Lobsang Kalsang a self-immolation protester, Gomar Choepel who was imprisoned for possessing pictures of the Dalai Lama and Adruk Lopo a monk who spent 10 years in Mianyang prison on the grounds that he promoted separatist activities and leaked state secrets.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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Even though Sonam Gyalpo has been released, many other Tibetan political prisoners are still held in Chinese jails. Some of them are held in secret locations, with the Chinese authorities refusing to reveal any information about their location or current health condition and preventing them from contacting their relatives.

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