Chinese authorities release Tibetan monk in critical health after serving 15 years in prison

DHARAMSALA, Mar 24: Yet another Tibetan political prisoner has been released in poor health on Mar 20 after serving a jail term of 15 years for challenging China’s occupation of Tibet.

Ngawang Gyurmey, a monk of Tsendhen monastery in restive Sog County in Nagchu Prefecture in the traditional Tibetan Province of Kham was released around 1:30pm (local time) after completing his sentence of 15 years.

Ngawang Gyurmey after he was released from prison.
Ngawang Gyurmey after he was released from prison.

He was arrested in Mar 17, 2001 along with fellow monks Si Khedup, Yeshi Tenzin, Tenzin Choewang and two lay Tibetans, Tragru Yeshi and Tsering Lhagon for pasting and distributing leaflets that read, Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, “Tibet is independent” and “China quit Tibet”. They were charged with “endangering State security” and “instigating” others against the Chinese government.

In late 2000, the Intermediate People’s Court in Nagchu Prefecture sentenced Ngawang Gyurmey to 15 years in prison, Si Khedup to life, Tsering Lhagon to 15 years, Yeshi Tenzin to 10 years, Tragru Yeshi to 7 years in prison.

Ngawang Gyurmey was initially held at Drapchi prison in Lhasa but was later transferred to Chushul prison. While he was in prison, his father passed away and due to severe torture sustained in prison he became severely ill in prison. When he was on the verge of dying, on the request of fellow prisoners and his relatives, the prison authorities allowed him to be taken to a bigger hospital and survived after getting some form of treatment.

Though he was released on Mar 20 after completing his sentence, sources said his family and relatives fear that his poor health condition might deteriorate further and may not survive for long.

An old undated image of Ngawang Gyurmey.
An old undated image of Ngawang Gyurmey.

The sources said the family members’ fear is not unfounded as two other fellow monks who were arrested with him, Tenzin Choewang and Yeshi Tenzin died after nearly three years and two days following their release from prison.

Ngawang Gyurmey became a monk of Tsendhen monastery when he was in his twenties and made use of his construction skills rebuild and renovate the monastery.

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