Former Tibetan political prisoner Labrang Jigme passes away 

Labrang Jigme receiving a traditional Tibetan scarf from a well wisher upon his release from Chinese prison in 2016.

DHARAMSALA, 4 July: Former Tibetan political prisoner Jigme Gyatso has passed away due to prolonged health complications sustained during his time in the Chinese prison.

Jigme Gyatso, also known as Labrang Jigme or Jigme Guri, of Labrang monastery in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, passed away on Saturday at his home in the Kanlho.

Though the exact cause of his death remains unknown, the senior Tibetan monk was released from prison by the Chinese authorities after completing his five years sentence allegedly for engaging in ‘splittist activities’ in 2016 in poor health.  

His aides have said that the persecution, torture, starvation, and degradation he endured while in Chinese prison have taken a toll on his body which resulted in prolonged health complications.

Chinese authorities are known to release political prisoners when it became imminent that the prisoners would die from the injuries sustained from severe beatings and torture during police detention and interrogation.

Labrang Jigme came into prominence after he testified about his brutal treatment in custody in a 2009 video that widely circulated on the internet.

He was detained for the first time in 2006 when he returned to Labrang after attending Kalachakra teachings given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Amravati, India. He was released without charge after being held and interrogated for a month.

In 2008, during the pan-Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, Jigme was detained and severely tortured for a year before releasing him without being formally charged.

He was arrested again in 2010 and subjected to “political education” for six months in a hotel before he was once again released without charge.

He was last arrested in 2011 for allegedly taking part in “splittist” activities and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on Sep 5, 2011.

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