Custodial death: Tibetan women tortured in Chinese custody succumbs in hospital, her cousin still in custody

Lhamo (R) and Tenzin Tharpa(L).

DHARAMSALA, 29 Oct: A Tibetan women from Driru county in Nagchu, Traditional Tibetan Province of Kham has died in “Chinese state custody” while her cousin is still being held in detention.

Lhamo, a herder from Driru has died in a local hospital in August 2020 shortly after being transferred there from police custody, the Human Rights Watch reported. 

 The New York-based rights group has further stated that the “Chinese authorities should investigate the death of a Tibetan woman in custody and release her wrongfully detained cousin.”

According to the report, the Chinese authorities detained Lhamo and her cousin Tenzin Tharpa just two days apart in June earlier this year form Chaktse township in Driru “apparently on charges of having sent money to family members or other Tibetans in India.”

Although sending money to India is not a crime under Chinese law, the report noted that China views “contact between Tibetans in Tibet and those abroad as endangering national security.”

Lhamo’s family members were in for a rude shock when they were abruptly summoned to the hospital in August as they found her badly bruised and unable to speak, the report added.

Though the report noted that she had been in good health before her detention, the 36-year-old mother of three “died two days later” in the hospital, her body was “immediately cremated without a medical examination.”

 “The death of Lhamo, a Tibetan herder, is the latest in a pattern of apparent torture and death in Chinese state custody,” HRW China director Sophie Richardson has declared in the report.

“Tibetan regional authorities should be held accountable for serious violations, including arbitrary detention, torture or ill-treatment, and deprivation of the right to life.”

Further, the rights group has stated that the cases illustrate the “Chinese government’s long-running mistreatment of Tibetans.”

Tharpa, 39, a former monk who was forced out of the famous Larung Gar monastery had been under the microscope of Chinese authorities since 2012 the report said and added that a Tibetan medium school he started in Chaktse was closed down by the authorities calling it ‘illegal’. Later he started the Local Produce Trading Company, which became a successful entrepreneur dealing in medicinal herbs and other local products.

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