Yet another Tibetan dies from prison injuries under Chinese rule

An undated photo of Kunchok Jinpa. 

DHARAMSALA, 17 Feb: In yet another case highlighting China’s horrendous torture and sufferings endured by Tibetans inside Chinese prison, another Tibetan from restive Driru county in Nagchu, Traditional Tibetan Province of Kham has passed away in Chinese state custody.

Kunchok Jinpa died in a hospital in Lhasa on 6 February 2021, less than three months after being transferred there from prison without his family’s knowledge, the Human Rights Watch reported.

According to the report, Jinpa, a Tibetan tour guide serving a 21-year sentence allegedly for reporting protests in his native region seven years ago had suffered a brain haemorrhage and was paralyzed when he was transferred to the hospital from the prison.

Sophie Richardson, the rights group’s China director has described Jinpa’s death as “yet another grim case of a wrongfully imprisoned Tibetan dying from mistreatment” while the New York-based rights group has further stated that the Chinese authorities should account for the death of 51-year-old Tibetan.

“Chinese authorities responsible for arbitrary detention, torture or ill-treatment, and the death of people in their custody should be held accountable,” she declared in the report.

The report noted that he was among hundreds of Tibetans from Driru detained after a series of peaceful protests in October 2013 against official demands that villagers fly Chinese flags from every house.

After his detention by the Chinese authorities in 2013, his family members were left in the dark with no information available on his whereabouts.

The rights group has now learned that he was detained on 8 Nov. 2013 and later convicted of leaking state secrets for passing information to foreign media about local environmental and other protests in his region.

“His 21-year sentence is unparalleled for such an offense, and no information about his trial or conviction had been publicly available outside China until now,” the report added.

According to the report, the Chinese authorities moved the Tibetan tour guide from a prison – believed to be the regional prison at Nyetang, near Lhasa – to a hospital in that city in November 2020 whilst his family learned on 29 January that he was to undergo emergency treatment.

The report noted that some of his family members who went to give blood at the hospital were unable to see him before he succumbed to injuries sustained while in Chinese custody.

Kunchok Jinpa, son of Sonam Wangden and Pelha, hails from Village No. 5 in Chaktse township in Driru, a county in Nagchu prefecture. He was ordained as a monk at Gom Gonsar monastery (Choekor Jampaling) in Driru at a very young age.

Jinpa escaped to India in Oct. 1989, studied for about 1.5 years at the Changchubling monastery in Dehradun, studied at TCV SUJA school from April 1991 until his graduation in 1996 as a layman and did further studies from Higher Tibetan Studies Institute in Varanasi before he returned to Tibet in 1998 and started working as a tour guide.

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