Two Tibetan prisoners released from jail

Sonam Gonpo
Sonam Gonpo

24th March 2016

Sonam Gonpo and Joleb Jigme served four and seven years respectively

Two Tibetan prisoners were released this month after completing their sentences. Sonam Gonpo was released on 12 March having served four years while Joleb Jigme was released on 21 March after serving seven years. A third prisoner, Sonam Choedhar, who was arrested along with Sonam Gonpo, remains in prison.

Sonam Gonpo is from Bonpo Township of Sershul County in Kardze, eastern Tibet. He was arrested as part of a group of six monks at Bonpo Monastery in December 2012. His arrest came after he raised a Tibetan national flag and distributed leaflets throughout Bonpo Townhip, which throughout 2012 had a heightened police presence due to three self-immolation protests that February.

The whereabouts and situation of the six monks remained unknown to their families for nine months. In 11 September 2013 Sonam Gonpo and Sonam Choedhar stood trial and were given four year sentences while the other four monks were released.

Sonam Gonpo returned to his home from prison alone in the night of 12 March 2016. Despite having served a full sentence, Sonam Choedhar, has not yet been released.

Former monk released

This week saw the release of Jigme, a former monk from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba county, eastern Tibet. He known as Joleb Jigme because his hometown in Ngaba is called Joleb.

Joleb Jigme was arrested in February 2009 when, along with other monks from Kirti Monastery, he joined in a peaceful protest that a group of students from Ngaba were carrying out. After more than a year in pre-trial detention he was finally sentenced in April 2010 to seven years in prison on charges of having foreign contacts and divulging state secrets to outsiders. He served his sentence in Mianyang Prison, where several other Tibetan political prisoners are currently detained.

Just before release it was reported that Jigme, now 46, was suffering from poor health and that he was admitted to hospital for treatment for over a month, during which time his prison term ended. He was released on 21 March and arrived back in Joleb the following day, where he was welcomed by a group of people including Theurang, a writer and former political prisoner.

Sonam Choedar

Former monk released

This week saw the release of Jigme, a former monk from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba county, eastern Tibet. He known as Joleb Jigme because his home town in Ngaba is called Joleb.

Joleb Jigme was arrested in February 2009 when, along with other monks from Kirti Monastery, he joined in a peaceful protest that a group of students from Ngaba were carrying out. After more than a year in pre-trial detention he was finally sentenced in April 2010 to seven years in prison on charges of having foreign contacts and divulging state secrets to outsiders. He served his sentence in Mianyang Prison, where several other Tibetan political prisoners are currently detained.

Just before release it was reported that Jigme, now 46, was suffering from poor health and that he was admitted to hospital for treatment for over a month, during which time his prison term ended. He was released on 21 March and arrived back in Joleb the following day, where he was welcomed by a group of people including Theurang, a writer and former political prisoner.

Joleb Jigme upon his release

Take action

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.